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Associate  Professor  in  the  University  of  Wyoming 

A  Dissertation  presented  to  the  Faculty  of  the  Graduate  School 

of  Yale  University  in  Candidacy  for  the  Degree  of 

Doctor  of  Philosophy 





or  HOI 





Ann  Radcliffe  is  among  the  authors  who  are  spoken  of 
with  a  certain  degree  of  familiarity,  but  of  whom  little  is 
really  known.  When  her  name  is  mentioned,  people  say, 
glibly,  'Ann  Radcliffe?  Oh,  yes.  The  Mysteries  of 
Udolpho  f  But  when  questioned  further,  many  of  them  are 
obliged  to  admit  that  even  of  her  most  famous  books  they 
know  only  a  few  pages  quoted  by  other  writers,  Her 
importance  as  a  literary  influence  we  find  accepted  without 
dispute  in  most  discussions  of  eighteenth-  and  nineteenth- 
century  literature,  especially  those  which  have  to  do  with  the 
novel.  But  Ann  Radcliffe  in  herself,  as  a  literary  figure  of 
real  significance  and  power,  has  received  scant  justice. 
There  has  been  little  attempt  to  establish  definitely  her  place 
among  her  contemporaries;  there  has  hardly  been  a 
thorough  and  consistent  working-out  of  her  influence  upon 
later  writers,  although  in  that  direction  more  has  been  done. 

The  one  full  and  carefully  critical  treatment  of  Mrs. 
Radcliffe  is  still  to  be  found  in  Sir  Walter  Scott's  essay, 
which  first  appeared  shortly  after  her  death,  as  one  of  the 
prefaces  in  Ballantyne's  Novelists'  Library,  and  was  after- 
ward published  in  the  collection  called  Lives  of  the  Novelists. 
Among  more  modern  works  which  give  some  considerable 
attention  to  Mrs.  Radcliffe  may  be  mentioned  Professor 
Beers'  English  Romanticism  in  the  Eighteenth  Century;  a 
doctoral  thesis  entitled  The  Gothic  Romance:  its  Origin 
and  Development,  by  Elizabeth  Church,  written  at  Radcliffe 
College  in  1913,  and  as  yet  unpublished;  a  thesis  by  Joseph 
Brey,  Die  Natttrschilderungen  in  den  Romanen  und  Ge- 
dichten  der  Mrs.  Ann  Radcliffe,  nebst  einem  Rilckblick 
auf  die  Entwickelung  der  Naturschilderung  im  Englischen 


4  Ann  Radcliffe  in  Relation  to  Her  Time 

Romane  des  18.  Jahrhunderts;1  The  Gothic  Romance,  by 
Hans  Mobius;2  and  a  study  of  Englische  Romankunst,  by 
Wilhelm  Dibelius.8 

Most  of  these  works  consider  mainly  Mrs.  Radcliffe's 
influence  upon  others.  It  has  seemed  that  there  was  perhaps 
room  for  a  more  thorough  investigation  than  has  hitherto 
been  made  of  her  actual  place  among  her  contemporaries; 
that  it  might  be  worth  while  to  see  what  her  readers  and 
fellow-writers  thought  about  her,  and  to  decide,  as  far  as 
possible,  what  part  of  her  work  was  original,  and  what  was 
derived  from  others. 

The  present  study  has  several  definite  aims.  In  the  first 
place,  it  attempts  to  put  into  clear  and  accessible  form  what 
can  be  discovered  concerning  Mrs.  Radcliffe's  life.  It  takes 
up  her  work  from  several  points  of  view,  considering  the 
sources  from  which  she  drew  material;  the  popularity  of 
her  books,  as  shown  by  contemporary  estimates,  especially 
in  leading  magazines  of  her  day,  and  by  the  numerous 
translations  and  dramatizations  which  were  made;  and  a 
somewhat  neglected  aspect  of  her  contribution  to  the  novel — 
her  modification  of  its  structure. 

The  most  interesting  thing  about  the  study  has  been  its 
revelation  of  the  really  .important  place  which  this  almost 
forgotten  author  held  in  the  literary  judgment  of  her  gen- 
eration. She  was_pra,ised  jiot  only  Jjyjthe  general  crowd 
of  fiction-readers,  huL-by-^  men  who  made  a  profession  of 
criticizing  literature,  andjvho  had  a  sense  of  literary  values. 
An  examination  of  the  magazines  of  the  late  eighteenth 
century  shows  us  that  in  her  own  day  she  occupied  con- 
stantly and  triumphantly  the  chief  place  in  public  favor. 
She  was  referred  to  as  the  Great  Enchantress,  and  it  was 
perhaps  because  Scott  was  recognized  as  in  a  sense  her 

1  Munich,  1908. 
'Leipzig,  190:;. 
'  Palestra,  Vol.  92,  Berlin,  1910. 

Introductory  5 

successor  that  his  more  powerful  spells  won  for  him  the 
title  of  the  Wizard  of  the  North.  Even  he  did  not  at  once 
take  precedence  of  Mrs.  Radcliffe,  and,  great  though  the 
interest  was  which  he  aroused,  it  does  not  seem  to  have 
been  universally  recognized  that  a  distinctly  superior  power 
had  appeared.  Henry  Crabb  Robinson,  writing  of  Wav- 
erley  in  1815,*  balances  the  merits  of  the  two  writers  as  if 
he  accepted  them  as  equals: 

The  author's  sense-  of  the  romantic  and  picturesque  is  not  so 
delicate,  or  his  execution  so  powerful,  as  Mrs.  Radcliffe's,  but 
his  paintings  of  men  and  manners  are  more  valuable.  The  inci- 
dents are  not  so  dexterously  contrived,  and  the  author  has  not 
'produced  a  very  interesting  personage  in  his  hero,  Waverley, 
who,  as  his  name  was  probably  intended  to  indicate,  is  ever 
hesitating  between  two  kings  and  two  mistresses. 

Scott,  in  his  own  judgment  of  Mrs.  Radcliffe,  is  both 

generous  and  discriminating: 

f  It  may  be  true,  that  Mrs.  Radcliffe  rather  walks  in  fairy-land 
than  in  the  region  of  realities,  and  that  she  has  neither  displayed 
the  command  of  the  human  passions,  nor  the  insight  into  the 
human  heart,  nor  the  observation  of  life  and  manners,  which 
recommend  other  authors  in  the  same  line.  But,  she  has  taken 
the  lead  in  a  line  of  composition,  appealing^totn^e^poliveirful 
and  general  sources  of  interest,  a  latent  sense  of  supernatural 
awe,  and  curiosity  concerning  whatever  is  hidden  and  mysteri- 
ous; and  if  she  has  beeii  ever-  nearly  .approached  in.  this  walk, 
which  we  should  hesitate  to  affirm,  it  is  at  least  certain  that 
she  has  never  been  excelled  or  even  equalled.1 

One  of  whom  Scott  could  speak  in  such  terms,  one  who 
was  largely  responsible  for  a  literary  type,  which  has  not 
entirely  ceased  its  influence  even  down  to  our  own  time, 
certainly  has  some  claim  to  consideration.  We  have  hardly 
the  right  to  dismiss  her  with  a  patronizing  smile,  and  a 
joking  reference  to  subterranean  passages,  long-suffering 
maidens,  vanishing  lights,  and  creaking  doors. 

*  Diary   i.  304. 

*  Lives  of  the  Novelists ,  p.  244. 



The  title  of  this  chapter  is  chosen  advisedly.  We  know 
a  few  plain,  bald  facts  about  Ann  RadclifFe's  experience  in 
the  world,  and  that  is  all  we  know.  The  whole  range  of  her 
personality  and  relationships  we  can  get  only  by  inference 
or  imagination.  She  did  not,  as  some  authors  have  done, 
leave  letters  and  diaries  which  reveal  her  friendships,  her 
tastes,  and  her  ideals.  The  journals  which  she  did  keep 
record  her  impressions  of  external  things,  rather  than  her 
inner  life. 

It  is  extraordinary  that  any  one  who  occupied  so  con- 
spicuous a  place  in  the  literary  world  could  have  kept  her 
personal  affairs  so  completely  away  from  public  observation. 
A  writer  in  the  Edinburgh  Review  (38.  360,  note)  for  May, 
1823,  makes  the  following  comment  on  Mrs.  Radcliffe : 

The  fair  authoress  kept  herself  almost  as  much  incognito  [sic] 
as  the  Author  of  Waverley;  nothing  was  known  of  her  but  her 
name  on  the  title  page.  She  never  appeared  in  public,  nor 
mingled  in  private  society,  but  kept  herself  apart,  like  the  sweet 
bird  that  sings  its  solitary  notes,  shrowded  and  unseen. 

In  truth,  her  anonymity,  though  in  one  sense  less  com-  • 
plete  than  Scott's,  was  more  persistent.  Her  name,  indeed, 
appeared  upon  the  title-page,  but  to  most  of  her  readers 
the  name  revealed  Clothing.  Her  private  life  and  her 
authorship  were  to  her,  evidently,  two  entirely  separate 
things,  and  in  those  days  there  were  no  interviewers  suffi- 
ciently daring  to  make  the  one  an  excuse  for- intruding  upon 
the  other. 

The  few  facts  which  give  us  our  only  definite  hold  on 
Ann  Radcliffe  as  a  person  are  found  in  the  Annual  Biog- 

Facts  df  Mrs.  Radcliffe's  Life  1 

raphy  and  Obituary  for  I824.1  It  is  this  account  which  is 
made  use  of  by  Scott  in  the  Lives  of  the  Novelists,  by  Mrs. 
Kavanagh  in  the  English  Women  of  Letters,  and  by  Tal- 
fourd  in  the  memoir  prefixed  to  Gaston  de  Blondeville. 
Part  of  the  information  furnished  here,  it  seems  likely,  is 
quoted  directly  from  Mr.  Radcliffe  himself,  for  the  author 
of  the  memoir  says  he  went  to  the  person  best  qualified  to 
speak  of  Mrs.  Radcliffe,  and  that  would  naturally  have  been 
'her  husband.  Although  this  biographical  sketch  has  been 
used  by  the  writers  just  mentioned,  a  portion  of  it  may  be 
repeated  here,  as  it  is  the  most  authoritative  statement  that 
we  have  of  Ann  Radcliffe's  ancestry : 

She  was  born  inLondon,  in  the^  year  J£64;  the  daughter  of 
WilTijtiiTand  AnjTWard.  wlioTlHough  mjraderwere  nearly  the 
only  persons  of  their  two  families  not  living  in  handsome,  or  at 
least  easy  indeRejQiJ^Jice.  Her  paternal  grandmother  was  a 
Cheselden,  the  sister  of  the  celebrated  surgeon  of  whose  kind 
regard  her  father  had  a  grateful  recollection,  and  some  of 
whose  presents,  in  books,  I  have  seen.  The  late  Lieutenant 
Colonel  Cheselden,  of  Somerby  in  Leicestershire,  was,  I  think, 
another  nephew  of  the  surgeon.  Her  father's  aunt,  the  late 
Mrs.  Harwell,  first  of  Leicester,  and  then  of  Duffield  in  Derby- 
shire, was  one  of  the  sponsors  at  her  baptism.  Her  maternal 
grandmother  was  Ann  Gates,  the  sister  of  Dr.  Samuel  Jebb  of 
Stratford,  who  was  father  of  Sir  Richard :  on  that  side  she 
was  also  related  to  Dr.  Halifax,  Bishop  of  Gloucester,  and  to 
Dr.  Halifax,  Physician  to  the  King.  Perhaps  it  may  gratify 
curiosity  to  state  further,  that  she  was  descended  from  a  near 
relative  of  the  DeWitts  of  Holland.  In  some  family  papers 
which  I  have  seen,  it  is  stated  that  a  DeWitt,  of  the  family  of 
John  and  Cornelius,  came  to  England,  under  the  patronage  of 
government,  upon  some  design  of  draining  the  fens  in  Lin- 
colnshire, bringing  with  him  a  daughter,  Amelia,  then  an  infant 
The  prosecution  of  the  plan  is  supposed  to  have  been  interrupted 
by  the  rebellion,  in  the  time  of  Charles  the  First;  but  DeWitt 
appears  to  have  passed  the  remainder  of  his  life  in  a  mansion 
near  Hull,  and  to  have  left  many  children,  of  whom  Amelia  was 
the  mother  of  one  of  Mrs.  Radcliffe's  ancestors.' 


*  Annual  Biography  and  Obituary  8.  98. 

8  Ann  Radcliffe  in  Relation  to  Her  Time 

This  passage  perhaps  shows  an  innocent  desire  on  Mr. 
Radcliffe's  part  to  emphasize  the  importance  of  his  wife's 
family,  but  it  does  certainly  tell  us  that  she  came  of  honor- 
able stock.  A  little  further  on,  we  have  the  account  of 
some  of  the  advantages  which  she  enjoyed  in  her  childhood. 

Besides  that  a  great  part  of  her  youth  had  been  passed  in 
the  residences  of  her  superior  relatives,  she  had  the  advantage 
of  being  much  loved,  when  a  child,  by  the  late  Mr.  Bentley; 
to  whom,  on  the  establishment  of  the  fabric  known  by  the  name 
of  Wedgwood  and  Bentley's,  was -appropriated  the  superinten- 
dence of  all  that  related  to  form  and  design.  Mr,  Wedgwood 
was  the  intelligent  man  of  'commerce,  and  the  able  chemist; 
Mr.  Bentley  the  man  of  more  general  literature,  and  of  taste 
in  the  arts.  One  of  her  mother's  sisters  was  married  to  Mr. 
Bentley;  and,  during  the  life  of  her  aunt,  who  was  accom- 
plished 'according  to  the  moderation'— ;may  I  say,  the  wise 
moderation? — of  that  day,  the  little  niece  was  a  favorite  guest 
at  Chelsea,  and  afterwards  at  Turnham  Green,  where  Mr.  and 
Mrs.  Bentley  resided.  At  their  house  she  saw  several,  persons 
of  distinction  for  literature;  and  others  who,  without  having 
been  so  distinguished,  were  beneficial  objects  of  attention  for 
their  minds  and  their  manners.  Of  the  former  class  the  late 
Mrs.  Montague,  and  once,  I  think,  Mrs.  Piozzi;  of  the  latter, 
Mrs.  Ord.  The  gentleman  called  Athenian  Stuart  was  also  a 
visitor  there. 

This  passage  would  seem  to  involve  us  in  a  slight  dif- 
ficulty. Thomas  Bentley  married  in  1754  Miss  Hannah 
Gates,  of  Sheffield.1  .  She  died  two  years  after  this  mar- 
riage, and  he  afterward  married  Mary  Stamford,  of  Derby. 
It  would  have  been  impossible  for  Ann  Ward  to  make  visits 
'during  the  life  of  her  aunt/  as  the  latter  died  eight  years 
before  Ann  was  born.  According  to  Eliza  Meteyard,  how- 
ever, an  elder  sister  of  Hannah  Gates  kept  house  for  her 
brother-in-law  from  the  death  of  his  first  wife  to  his  second 
marriage  in  1772,  and  apparently,  even  after  the  second 
marriage,  spent  considerable  time  in  his  household.  Miss 

1  Meteyard,  Life  of  Joseph  Wedgwood  i.  305;  2.  258. 

Facts  of  Mrs.  Radcliffe's  Life  9 

Meteyard  adds,  'A  niece  seems  also  to  have  occasionally 
resided  with  them/1  and  again  she  remarks,  'Nor  was  child- 
hood absent  from  that  pleasant  home,  with  its  fine  gardens, 
its  environing  fields,  and  the  'great  silent  highway*  flowing 
near.  A  little  niece  of  either  Miss  Gates  or  Mr.  Bentley 
passed  much  of  her  time  at  Chelsea.'2 

I  have  called  attention  to  this  rather  small  point  because, 
if  Ann  Ward  was  the  'little  niece1  mentioned  here,  the  fact 
gives  valuable  testimony  as  to  her  early  lOpportunitiesi 
Mr.  Bentley  was,  from  all  accounts,  not  only  a  man  of  busi- 
ness, but  possessed  of  wide  culture.  Miss  Meteyard  speaks 
of  his  popularity  and  his  courtliness  of  manner,  and  men- 
tions many  people  of  prominence  in  literary  and  scientific 
work  whom  he  counted  among  his  friends.  He  himself 
contributed  articles  to  the  Gentleman's  Magazine  and  the 
Monthly  Review,  and  Wedgwood,  in  one  of  his  letters,  re- 
proaches him  for  not  publishing  a  manuscript  on  female 
education.3  He  was  evidently  able  to  introduce  his  niece 
to  a  circle  interested  in  literature  and  art,  a  society  which 
must  have  been  most  stimulating  to  a  young  girl  of  quick 
intelligence ;  and  he  probably  took  an  active  interest  in  her 
development.  Her  biographer  is  certainly  right  in  calling 
her  intimacy  with  the  Bentley  family  an  advantage. 

Mr.  Bentley  died  in  1780,  when  Ann  was  sixteen.  For 
the  last  three  years  of  his  life,  his  residence  was  at  Turnham 
Green.  It  was  in  1774  that  he  left  his  Chelsea  home;  if 
his  niece  visited  him  there,  it  must  have  been  when  she  was 
only  a  child. 

So  far  as  her  formal  education  is  concerned,  we  are  able 
to  learn  little.  The  general  impression  given  by  her  biog- 
raphers is  that  it  was  the  ordinary  education  of  the  yomg 
girl  of  that  day,  and  that,  according  to  modern  ideas,  it 

*  Ibid.  i.  305. 
1  Ibid.  2.  172. 
'  Julia  Wedgwood,  Personal  Life  of  Josiah  Wedgwood,  p.  48. 

io  Ann  Radcliffe  in  Relation  to  Her  Time 

would  seem,  if  Jot  superficial,  decidedly  incomplete.     Mrs. 
Kavanagh  speaks  of  her  education  as  'plain/  and  adds1 : 

Had  Ann  Radcliffe  been  John  Radcliffe,  ard  received  the 
vigorous  and  polished  education  which  marks  the  man  and  the 
gentleman,  we  might  have  a  few  novels  less,  but  we  would 
assuredly  have  some  fine  pages  more  in  that  language  where, 
spite  their  merit,  her  works  will  leave  no  individual  trace. 

From  Mrs.  RadcliftVs  own  work  we  might,  perhaps,  be 
inclined  to  give  her  credit  for  rather  more  knowledge  than 
this  comment  implies.  Her  references  to  authors,  both  in 
her  journals  and  in  her  novels,  show  not  only  thorough 
familiarity  but  genuine  appreciation,  and  the  quotations 
which  she  uses  as  headings  to  her  chapters  suggest  a  con- 
siderable range  of  reading.  Mrs.  Elwood,  in  her  Memoirs 
of  Literary  Ladies,  gives,  on  the  authority  of  an  unnamed 
contemporary  who  spent  an  evening  with  Mrs.  Radcliffe, 
the  statement  that  she  was  a  great  admirer  of  Schiller's 
Robbers,  and  that  her  favorite  tragedy  was  Macbeth.  Her 
favorite  painters  were  Salvator,  Claude,  and  Caspar  Pous- 
sin.  Her  favorite  poets  after  Shakespeare  were  Tasso, 
Milton,  and  Spenser.  Whether  she  had  a  knowledge  of  any 
language  other  than  her  own  seems  uncertain.  The  writer 
of  the  sketch  in  the  Annual  Biography  and  Obituary,  before 
quoted,  speaks  of  her  'gratification  in  listening  to  any  good 
verbal  sounds';  and  says  that  she  'would  desire  to  hear 
passages  repeated  from  the  Latin  and  Greek  classics;  re- 
quiring, at  intervals,  the  most  literal  translations  that  could 
be  given,  with  all  that  was  possible  of  their  idiom,  how 
soever  the  version  might  be  embarrassed  by  that  aim  at 
exactness.'  This  would  make  it  appear  that  she  had  no 
understanding  of  the  originals.  In  her  Journey  Through 
Holland,  however,  she  twice  makes  use  of  a  Latin  quotation, 
with  considerable  aptness,  and,  moreover,  in  an  incidental 
way  which  makes  it  seem  probable  that  the  words  were 
familiar  to  her.  In  one  case1  the  reference  is  to  Lucretius : 

1  English  Women  of  'Letters,  p.  255. 
*  Journey  2.  272. 

Facts  of  Mn.  Radclifft's  Life  n 

We  returned  to  our  low-roofed  habitation,  where,  cs  the  wind 
swept  in  hollow  gusts  along  the  mountains  and  strove  against 
our  casements,  the  crackling  blaze  of  a  wood  fire  lighted  up  the 
cheerfulness,  which,  so  long  since  as  Juvenal's  [sic]  time,  has 
been  allowed  to  arise  from  the  contrast  of  ease  against  difficulty. 
Suave  mart  magno,  turbantlbus  aequora 

•  In  the  other  passage  she  refers  to  Tacitus,'  mentioning" 
'the  fine  speech,  beginning,  Nunquant  apud  vos  verba  fed, 
out  pro  vobis  solicitior,  aut  pro  me  securior;  a  passage  so 
near  to  the  cunctisque  timentewi,  securumque  sui,  by  which 
Lucan  describes  Cato,  that  it  must  be  supposed  to  have  been 
inspired  by  it." 

Of  course  it  is  quite  possible  that  these  writings  were 
known  to  Mrs.  Radcliffe  only  in  translation,  and  that  she 
had  her  husband's  aid  in  finding  the  originals,  but  in  that 
case  it  seems  almost  strange  that  she  did  not  make  her 
acknowledgment  of  his  assistance  more  general,  since  she 
scrupulously  makes  mention  of  the  fact  that  he  is  responsible 
for  the  political  observations  in  the  book. 

It  must  be  admitted  that  the  whole  question  of  Mrs.  Rad- 
cliffe's  early  education  remains  largely  a  matter  of  con- 
jecture. One  of  her  French  biographers*  remarks,  'Elle 
rec,ut  une  education  distinguee,'  but  he  gives  no  details  in 
support  of  his  statement.  The  fact  that  in  1781  the  Misses 
Sophia  and  Harriet  Lee  opened  their  school  for  young  ladies 
at  Bath  suggests  a  reasonable  source  for  her  early  training, 
and  that  she  may  have  been  a  pupil  in  the  school  seems  pos- 
sible from  a  comment  in  the  obituary  notice  of  Sophia  Lee 
in  the  Annual  Register  for  i824.5  No  records  of  this  school 
are  extant,  however;  so  it  «s  impossible  to  know  whether 

1  Lucretius  2.  i. 

*  Journey  i.  124. 

*  Arnault,  Biographic  Nouvelle  des  Contemporains,  Vol.  17. 

'66.  217:  'It  is  to  be  remarked  that  Mrs.  Radcliffe  (then  Miss 
Ward),  resident  at  Bath,  and  acquainted  in  Miss  Lee's  family, 
though  too  young  to  have  appeared  herself  as  a  writer,  was  among 
the  warmest  admirers  of  "The  Recess."' 

12     •       Ann  Radcliffe  in  Relation  to  Her  Time 

Miss  Ward's  name  appeared  upon  the  roll  of  pupils.    About 
all  the  conclusions  we  are  justified  in  drawing  are  these:  \ 
that  she  had  read  rather  widely,  both  in  older  and  in  more  ( 
modern  authors ;  that  she  knew  something  of  art  and  music ;  ' 
and  that,  among  her  own  relatives  and  connections,  she  had 
the  advantage  of  intelligent  and  refined  society. 

In  1787,  at  the  age  of  twenty-three,  Ann  Ward  married 

Wil!la5Lj5^£li%iA^aipale  of  Oxford  .J^ftd  a  student  of 
law.1  Mr.  Radcliffe  did  not,  however,  complete  his  legal 
studies;  he  turned,  instead,  to  journalism,  and  became  the 
proprietor  and  editor  of  the  English  Chronicle.  He  seems, 
also,  to  have  had  general  literary  interests,  apart  'from  his 
editorial  duties.  In  the  Monthly  Review  for  June,  1790, 
appears  a  review  of  'A  Journey  through  Siveden.  Written 
in  French  by  a  Dutch  Officer  and  translated  into  English  by 
William  Radcliffe,  A.B.  of  Oriel  College,  Oxford ;'  and  in 
the  same  magazine  for  September,  1790,  is  a  review  of  The 
Natural  History  of  East  Tartary,  translated  by  the  same 
author.  There  is  no  further  description,  to  show  whether 
this  is  the  William  Radcliffe  who  married  Ann  Ward,  but 
the  exact  correspondence  of  the  name  and  title  with  those 
given  in  the  marriage-notice  makes  it  seem  probable. 

Marriage,  with  Ann  Ward,  seems  to  have  meant  not  the 
ending,  but  the  beginning,  of  a  career.  In  the  scanty  bio- 
graphical treatments  of  Mrs.  Radcliffe  which  we  possess, 

1  Mr.  R.  W.  M.  Wright,  sub-librarian  of  the  Victoria  Art  Gallery 
and  Reference  Library,  Bath,  furnished  me  with  the  following 
notices : 

Entry  in  Parish  Register  of  St.  Michaels  Church, 

Jan.  15"  1787.  William  Radcliffe  Bachelor    w..  William   Waxd 

Anne  Ward  Spinster  Rose  Forbes 

Bath  Chronicle,  Thurs.,  Jany  18,  1787. 

Monday,  was  married  at  St  Michaels  Church  the  Rev  William 
Radcliffe  A.  B.  of  Oriel  College,  Oxford,  to  Miss  Ward,  daughter 
of  Mr.  Ward,  of  Milsom  Street. 

Facts  of  Mrs.  Radcliffe's  Life  13 

one  statement  is  made  emphatic,  that  she  was  encouraged  to 
her  writing — urged  to  it,  in  fact — by  her  husband.  We 
.  are  even  told  that  on  their  journeys  she  was  always  equipped 
with  a  number  of  notebooks  in  which  she  wrote  her  impres- 
sions of  the  scenery,  and  that  Mr.  Radcliffe  amused  himself 
by  reading  what  she  had  written.  To  enjoy  reading  about 
scenery,  when  in  the  presence  of  the  scenery  itself,  certainly 
implies  either  devotion  on  the  part  of  the  reader,  or  charm 
on  the  part  of  the  writer.  In  this  case  both  probably  existed 
to  a  considerable  degree. 

Mrs.  Radcliffe's  first  book,  The  Castles  of  Athlin  and 
Dunbayne,  was  published  two  years  after  her  marriage,  a 
short  review  of  it  appearing  in  the  Critical  Review  for 
September,  I789.1  It  was  published  anonymously,  as  were 
the  first  editions  of  A  Sicilian  Romance ,  in  1791,  and  The 
Romance  of  the  Forest,  in  1792.  It  was  not  until  the  second 
edition  of  the  latter  book  that  the  author's  name  appeared 
on  the  title-page,  The  Romance  of  the  Forest  completely 
established  the  reputation  of  the  author,  whose  second  book 
had  attracted  much  more  favorable  comment  than  the  first. 
The  Mysteries  of  Udolpho,  in  1794,  made  her  the  most 
popular  writer  of  the  day.  This  was  followed,  in  1795,  by 
A  Journey  Made  in  the  Summer  of  119$,  through  Holland 
and  the  Western  Frontier  of  Germany,  with  a  Return  down 
the  Rhine:  to  which  are  added  Observations  during  a  Tour 
to  the  Lakes  of  Lancashire,  Westmoreland  and  Cumberland. 
The  Italian,  in  1796,  completes  the  list  of  works  published 
during  Mrs.  Radcliffe's  lifetime. 

Further  discussion  of  her  work  and  its  reception  will  be 
given  later.  Here  it  will  suffice  to  say  that  at  the  time 
The  Italian  appeared,  probably  no  author  was  so  generally 
admired  and  so  eagerly  read  as  this  young  woman,  who  had 
begun  writing,  we  are  told,  to  pass  away  the  winter  evenings 
when  her  husband  was  away  at  his  work,  and  who,  a  first, 
any  way,  took  her  productions  much  less  seriously  tha*i  he. 

1 68,  251. 

14  Ann  Raddiffe  in  Relation  to  Her  Time 

With  this  we  come  to  the  end  of  Mrs.  Radcliffe's  pro- 
ductive period,  and  to  the  consideration  of  a  puzzling 
question.  Why,  at  the  early  age  of  thirty-two,  at  the 
hejghfLjof_her  fame,  did  she  suddenly  lay  down  her  pen,  and, 
except  for  some  poems,  and  an  experimenTTnT  historical 
romance  which  she  apparently  had  no  intention  of  publish- 
ing, never  take  it  up  again  ? 

No  one  of  the  answers  that  have  been  offered  is  wholly 
satisfying.  Perhaps  a  combination  of  all  the  answers  might 
yield  greater  satisfaction.  One  suggestion,  is  that  she  was 
grieved  over  unfavorable  comments  on  The  Italian.  It  is 
true  that  some-reviewers "spoke :jof Jjie  book  as  falling  short 
of  The  Mysteries  of  Udolphofand  even  The  Romance  of  the 
Forest;  but  others  praised  it  as  surpassing  the  earlier  works, 
and  none  of  the  reviews  was  sufficiently  scathing  to  dis- 

:  courage  even  a  highly  sensitive  author.  Another  theory  is 
that  she  was  disgusted  by  the  many  absurd  productions 

|  which  tried  to  win  popularity. by  imitation  of  her.  There 
seems  to  be  rather  more  plausibility  .n  this.  A  lady  of  any 
literary  conscience  might  well  have  a  sense  of  guilt  at  being 
responsible  for  such  a  following.  It  may  even  be  that,  hav- 
ing seen  the  reductio  ad  absurditm  of  her  method,  she  came 
to  distrust  the  method  itself,  and  lost  the  inclination  to  carry 

i  it  further.  A  more  personal  reason  for  her  cessation  of 
activity  is  furnished  by  her  biographers  in  the  fact  that  she 
received  a  legacy  which  made  her  pecuniarily  independent, 
and  therefore  removed  any  temptation  to  write  for  gain. 
In  connection  with  the  -pecuniary  side  of  Mrs.  Radcliffe's 
writing,  a  passage  in  the  Annual  Biography  and  Obituary  is 
interesting : 

Some  exaggeration  has  taken  place  with  respect  to  the  pecu- 
niary advantages  which  Mrs.  Radcliffe  derived  from  her  talents. 
For  instance,  it  has  been  said,  that  she  received  ioco£  from  the 
Messrs.  Robinsons,  for  the  copy-right  of  'The  Mysteries  of 
Uuolpho.'  The  real  amount  was  soo£;  at  that  time  so  unusually 
large  a  sum  for  a  work  of  imagination,  that  old  Mr.  Cadell, 

Facts  of  Mrs.  RadcliffSs  Life  15 

than  whom  no  man  was  more  experienced  in  such  matters,  when 
he  was  told  that  soa£  had  been  given,  offered  a  wager  of  io£ 
that  it  was  not  the  fact.  It  has  also  been  said,  that  Mrs.  Rad- 
cliffe  received  isoo£  for  the  copyright  of  The  Italians.'  [sic] 
The  real  amount  did  not  exceed  8oo£ 

Although  we  have  no  suggestion  that,  in  her  early  mar- 
ried life,  Mrs.  Radcliffe  was  in  particular  need  of  money,  it 
is  probable  that  these  extra  sums  were  welcome.  Later  on, 
when  private  resources  made  possible  more  indulgenceslrT 
the  way  of  entertainment  and  travel,  and  when,  perhaps, 
her  husband  had  more  time  to  enjoy  these  things  with  her, 
there  was  less  temptation  to  put  her  fancies  into  salable 

Aside  from  the  list  of  her  publications,  we  find  the  chief 
record  of  Mrs.  Radcliffe's  life  in  the  journeys  that  she  made. 
Even  without  this  record,  we  could  almost  infer  her  love  of 
traveling  from  her  books/    Mrs.  Kavanagh  remarks  that 
,  her  heroes  and  heroines  are  always  going  on  journeys.     In 
•  this,  it  is  true,  she  was  following  to  some  extent  the  tradition 
;  of  the  novel.     But  in  the  older  novels  the  chief  aim  of  the 
hero's  travels  was  to  expose  him  continually  to  new  adven- 
tures.   With   Mrs.   Radcliffe   there  is  a  second   aim — to 
describe  the  changing  scenery,  and  to  show  its  effect  upon 
the  traveler. 

In  spite  of  her  love  of  travel,  Mrs.  Radcliffe  was  not,  on 
the  whole,  a  journeyer  in  far  places.  Her  one  experience 
of  the  Continent  was  the  trip  through  Holland  and  western 
.  Germany,  mentioned  before.  The  intention  of  the  travelers 
to  go  on  into  Switze'rland  was  frustrated  by  a  disobliging 
official,  who  refused  to  believe  that  they  were  English,  and 
would  not  honor  their  passports. 

How  little  was  accurately  known  of  Mrs.  Radcliffe,  even 
in  her  own  time,  is  shown  by  the  following  statement  in  the 
Edinburgh  "Review  for  May,  1823* : 

1 38.  360,  note. 


1 6  Ann  Radcliffe  in  Relation  to  Her  Time 

The  Editor  of  the  Englishman  for  many  years  was  a  Mr. 
Radcliffe.  He  had  been  formerly  Cached  to  some  of  our 
embassies  into  Italy,  where  his  lady  accompanied  him ;  and  here 
she  imbibed  that  taste  for  picturesque  scenery,  and  the  obscure 
and  wild  superstitions  of  mouldering  castles,  of  which  she  has 
made  so  beautiful  a  use  in  her  Romances. 

Scott  corrects  this  statement,  but  draws  an  inference  of 
his  own  which  seems  hardly  less  mistaken: 

In  1793,  Mrs.  Radcliffe  had  the  advantage  of  visiting  the 
scenery  of  the  Rhine,  and,  although  we  are  not  positive  of  the 
fact,  we  are  strongly  inclined  to  suppose  that  The  Mysteries  of 
Udolpho  were  written,  or  at  least  corrected,  after  the  date  of 
this  journey;  for  the  mouldering  castles  of  the  robber-chivalry 
of  Germany,  situated  on  the  wild  and  romantic  banks  of  that 
celebrated  stream,  seem  to  have  given  a  bolder  flight  to  her 
imagination,  and  a  more  glowing  character  to  her  colouring, 
than  are  exhibited  in  The  Romance  of  the  Forest.  .  .  .  Her 
remarks  upon  these  countries  were  given  to  the  public  in  1794, 
in  a  very  well-written  work,  entitled  A  Journey  through  Hoi" 
land,  etc.1 

Unfortunately  for  Scott's  theory,  the  very  title  of  the 
book  to  which  he  refers  contradicts  it.  It  is  A  Journey 
Made  in  the  Summer  of  1794,  and  the  first  announcement 
of  its  publication  is  found  in  the  London  Chronicle  for 
May  i,  1795.  The  first  notice  of  The  Mysteries  of  Udolpho 
appeared  £n,  M^y«l£L»l2!24-  ^  seems  impossible",  therefore, 
that  the  castles  of  the  Rhine  could  have  had  anything  to 
do  with  Mrs.  RadclifiVs  famous  description  of  the  Castle 
of  Udolpho.  It  must  remain  a  product  o.f  her  imagination, 
assisted  by  her  reading. 

After  this  one  longer  expedition,  Mrs.  Radcliffe's  travels 
were  confined  to  her  own  country.  We  have  mention  of  a 
tour  round  the  coast  of  Kent  in  1797.  In  1798  she  visited 
Portsmouth  and  the  Isle  of  Wight;  in  1800,  the  coast  of 
Sussex;  in  1801,  the  New  Forest  and  the  Isle  of  Wight. 
The  journey  in  1802  is  of  especial  interest.  In  that  year 

1  Lives  of  the  Novelists,  p.  215. 

Facts  of  Mrs.  Radcliffe's  Life  17 

she  visited  Leicester  and  Warwick,  Kenilworth,  Oxford, 
and  Woodstock ;  and  the  trip  to  Kenilworth  was  the  evident 
inspiration  of  Gaston  de  Blondeville,  which  was  written 
shortly  after,  but  was  not  published  until  after  her  death. 
The  latest  journey  of  any  length  which  we  find  recorded  was 
one  to  Portsmouth  and  the  Isle  of  Wight,  in  the  autumn  of 
1811.  In  her  later  years,  she  and  her  husband  gave  up  the 
more  distant  excursions,  and  hired  a  carriage  for  the  'sum- 
mer months,  so  that  they  might  make  trips  to  attractive 
places  near  London. 

The  seclusion  of  Mrs.  Radcliffe's  life  led,  naturally,  to 
many  misunderstandingsjwid.  false  reports.  One  source  of 
confusion  was  that  during  her  lifetime  several  books  ap- 
peared under  names  very  similar  to  hers.  The  British 
Museum  Catalogue  has  Mary  Ann  Radcliffe  of  Kennington 
Cross,  author  of  The  Memoirs  of  Mrs.  M.  A.  Radcliffe  in 
familiar  letters  to  her  female  friend,  and  The  Female  Advo- 
cate, or  an  attempt  to  recover  the  rights  of  women  from  male 
usurpation; .  Mary  Anne  Radcliffe,  author  of  M an f rone;  or 
the  One-handed  Monk;  and  Ann  Sophia  Radcliffe,  author 
of  The  Ladies  Elegant  Jester;  or,  Fun  for  the  Female  Sex. 

The  first  of  these  books  probably  helped  to  strengthen  the 
belief  in  Mrs.  Radcliffe's  death  which  her  long  silence 
seemed  to  support.  Mention  of  the  book  appears  in  the 
Monthly  List  of  Publications  of  the  British  Critic  for  Feb- 
ruary, iSii.1  The  Critic  for  August,  1812,  has  the  follow- 
ing comment  on  it8 : 

We  at  first  sight  promised  ourselves  and  our  readers  also, 
much  satisfaction  from  presenting  Memoirs  of  the  very  ingen- 
ious and  much  lamented  Mrs.  Radcliffe,  compiled  by  herself, 
but  it  seems  that  the  lady  here  commemorated  is,  or  rather  was, 
a  very  different  personage.  Whether  the  Tale  is  real  or  ficti- 
tious is  not  declared,  but  the  reader  will  find  a  narrative  by  no 
means  il!  written,  of  an  unfortunate  individual,  whose  life 

1 37- 205. 


1 8  Ann  Radcliffe  in  Relation  to  Her  Time 

exhibits  a  useful  moral,  and  lessons  of  important  caution  to 
the  thoughtless  of  her  own  sex.  Some  agreeable  specimens  of 
poetry  are  interspersed,  and  the  volume  is  introduced  by  a  very 
highly  respectable  list  of  subscribers. 

It  is  sometimes  inferred  that  the  writers  of  these  books 
were  masquerading  under  names  assumed  with  the  delib- 
erate intention  of  profiting  by  an  established  reputation. 
This  would  hardly  seem  to  be  true  in  the  case  of  The  Female 
Advocate;  for  the  author,  in  the  introduction,  apologizing 
for  her  daring  in  undertaking  such  a  performance,  says, 
'a  first  attempt,  surrounded  by  all  the  disadvantages  peculiar 
to  the  sex,  seems  to  her,  to  require  no  small  share  of  courage, 
and  which,  indeed,  nothing  but  the  importance  of  the  subject 
should  have  induced  her  to  encounter/  If  she  had  been 
posing  as  the  Ann  Radcliffe  of  the  novels,  she  would  hardly, 
writing  in  1799,  have  spoken  of  her  effort  as  'a  first  attempt.' 

Manfronc;  or  the  One-handed  Monk  is  an  undeniable 
imitation  of  Mrs.  Radcliffe's  novels.  The  opening  is  a  hash 
of  Radcliffian  details :  we  have  a  large,  dark  apartment  with 
flickering  light,  a  girl  who  has  been  perusing  a  gloomy  tale, 
and,  feeling  a  presentiment  of  evil,  is  about  to  summon  her 
maid  to  spend  the  night  with  her,  when  she  is  interrupted 
by  a  startling  adventure,  in  the  midst  of  which,  'quite  in  the 
fashion  of  Mrs.  Radcliffe's  heroines,  she  faints  away. 
There  are  many  other  resemblances  throughout  the  book. 
But  the  feeble  descriptions  of  nature  could  hardly  be  mis- 
taken for  Mrs.  Radcliffe's,  and  there  are  slips  in  grammar 
of  which  she  would  not  be  guilty.  We  find  the  book  at- 
tributed to  her,  however,  in  some  of  the  discussions  of  her 
work,  and  this  mistake  was  undoubtedly  far  from  helpful 
•  to  her  reputation.  In  one  of  the  accounts  of  her  which  j  * 
appeared  after  her  cleath1  we  are  told  that  'the  imitations  of  ' 
her  style  and  manner  by  various  literary  adventurers,  the/ 
publication  of  sortie  other  •  novels  under  a  name  slightly! 

1  Portfolio  16.  137. 

Facts  of  Mrs.  Radcliffe's  Life  19 

varied  for  the  purpose  of  imposing  on  the  public,  and  the 
flippant  use  of  the  term  "Radcliffe  school,"  by  scribblers 
of  all  classes,  tended  altogether  to  disgust  her  with  the 
world,  and  create  a  depression  of  spirits,  which  led  for  many 
years,  in  a  considerable  degree  to  seclude  her  from  society.' 
When  Manfrone  appeared,  however,  in  1809,  it  was  already 
more  than  ten  years  since  Mrs.  Radcliffe  had  written  any- 
thing for  publication;  so  that  it  cannot  bear  much  of  the 
responsibility  for  her  seclusion.  :  . 

The^  report,  of  Mrs,  Kajdcliffe's  death  was  .ngt_ihe_only 
one  which  gained  public  credence;  there  was  also  a  story 
that  excessive  use  of  her  imagination  in  representing  ex- 
travagant and  violent  scenes  had  driven  her  insane,  and 
that  she  was  ending  her  days  in  an  asylum.  This  rumor 
was  so  persistent  that  in  the  memoir  prefixed  to  Gaston^e 
Blondeville  was  included  a  statement  from  her  physician  in 
regard  to  her  mental  condition  during  the  last  part  of  her 
life.  That  this  statement  was  the  outcome  of  some  bitter- 
ness of  feeling  appears  from  a  passage  in  the  review  of  her 
posthumous  works  in  the  Monthly  Review  for  July,  i826l : 

There  is  one  part  of  Mrs.  Radcliffe's  life  upon  which  we 
should  have  abstained  from  offering  a  single  remark,  if  a  passage 
in  the  memoir  had  not  made  it  incumbent  on  us  to  say  a  word 
or  two  in  our  own  vindication.  In  a  former  number  of  this 
journal1  after  pointing  out  an  error  as  to  a  date  in  Sir  Walter 
Scott's  memoir  of  that  lady,  we  stated,  from  authority  upon 
which  we  had  every  reason  to  rely,  that  'she  died  in  a  state  of 
mental  desolation  not  to  be  described.'  It  was  no  part  of  our 
object  to  wound  the  feelings  of  any  of  her  surviving  friends, 
particularly  not  of  Mr.  Radcliffe,  for  whom  we  entertain  great 
respect.  But  the  fact  formed  a  part  of  the  literary  history  of 
the  country,  and,  if  our  information  were  correct,  we  saw  no 
reason  why  it  should  be  suppressed.  Not  content,  however,  with 
denying  its  truth,  Mr.  Radcliffe,  or  some  person  by  his  authority, 
charged  us,  in  the  public  prints,  with  impropriety  in  making  such 

•*N.  S.2.  280, 
"Former  Series  108.  269, 

20  Ann  Rddcliffe  in  Relation  to  Her  Time 

a  statement,  and  that  charge  is  repeated  in  a  document  drawn  up 
and  signed  by  Dr.  Scudamore,  and  inserted  in  the  memoir  now 
before  us.  That  we  may  not  be  accused  of  garbling  it  we  shall 
here  present  the  whole  of  that  document  to  the  reader. 

'Mrs.  Radcliffe  had  been  for  several  years  subject  to  severe 
catarrhal  coughs,  and  also  was  occasionally  afflicted  with  asthma. 

'In  March,  1822,  she  was  ill  with  inflammation  of  the  lungs,  and 
for  a  considerable  time  remained  much  indisposed.  With  the 
summer  season  and  change  of  air,  she  regained  a  tolerable 
state  of  health. 

'In  the  early  parjof  January,  iS^^^c^n^e^uence^ofjexposure 
to  cold^^e_w^s^ag^^atta^c1ce(r"witii  inflampTallQnjB^ 
and  much  more  severely  than  before.  Active  treatment  was 
immediately  adopted,  but  without  the  desired  relief ;  and  the 
symptoms  soon  assumed  a  most  dangerous  character.  At  the 
end  of  three  weeks,  however,  and  contrary  to  all  expectations, 
the  inflammation  of  the  lungs  was  overcome ;  and  the  amend- 
ment was  so  decided,  as  to  present  a  slight  prospect  of  recovery, 

'Alas!  our  hopes  were  soon  disappointed.  Suddenly,  in  the 
very  moment  of  seeming  calm  from  the  previous  violence  of 
disease,  a  new  inflammation  seized  the  membranes  of  the  brain. 
The  enfeebled  frame  could  not  resist  this  fresh  assault:  so 
rapid  in  their  course  were  the  violent  symptoms,  that  medical 
treatment  proved  wholly  unavailing. 

'In  the  space  of  three  days  death  closed  the  melancholy  scene. ' 

'In  this  manner,  at  the  age  of  fifty-nine,  society  was  deprived 
of  a  most  amiable  and  valuable  member,  and  literature  one  of 
its  brightest  ornaments. 

'The  foregoing  statement  will,  I  hope,  afford  all  the  explana- 
tion, which  can  be  required,  of  the  nature  of  Mrs.  Radcliffe's 
illness.  During  the  whole  continuance  of  the  inflammation  of 
the  lungs,  the  mind  was  perfect  in  its  reasoning  powers,  and 
became  disturbed  only  on  the  last  two  or  three  days,  as  a  natural 
consequence  of  the  inflammation  affecting  the  membranes  of  the 

'Previously  to  the  last  illness,  and  at  all  times,  Mrs.  Rad- 
cliffe enjoyed  a  remarkably  cheerful  state  of  mind;  and  no  one 
was  farther  removed  from  "mental  desolation,"  as  has  been 
so  improperly  described  of  the  latter  part  of  her  life. 

'She  possessed  a  quick  sensibility,  as  the  necessary  ally  of  'her 
fine  genius ;  but  this  quality  would  serve  to  increase  the  warmth 
of  the  social  feelings,  and  effectually  prevent  the  insulation  of 

Facts  of  Mrs.  Radcliffe's  Life  ai 

the  mind,  either  as  regards  the  temper  or  the  understanding/ — 
Memoir,  pp.  103-105. 

It  will  be  seen  that  this  document,  instead  of  contradicting 
our  statement,  confirms  it  in  the  most  pointed  manner.  We  did 
not  speak  generally  of  the  latter  part  of  Mrs.  Radcliffe's  life  as 
clouded  by  'mental  desolation,'  as  Dr.  Scudamore  has  been  taught 
to  suppose;  we  distinctly  said  that  she  died  in  that  unhappy 
state,  and  for  this  fact  we  need  no  further  evidence  than  his 
own  description  of  the  melancholy  close  of  her  existence.  We 
have  been  reluctantly  drawn  into  this  explanation,  and  we  now 
quit  the  subject. 

Mrs,  J&adcliff  e  died  on  February  7,  1823.  Her  obituary- 
notices  all  agree  in  praise  of  her  work,  and  in  very  meagre 
information  about  her  life.  The  publication  of  her  posthu- 
mous works,  in  1826,  seemed  to  cause  a  considerable  revival 
of  interest  in  her,  and  some  of  the  best  criticisms  of  her 
work  are  found  in  reviews  of  these  volumes^  She  was 
buried  in  the  cemetery  belonging  to  St.  George's,  Hanover 
Square.  This  burial-ground,  on  the  Bayswater  Road,  near 
Hyde  Park,  is  the  one  which  contains  the  grave  of  Lawrence 

A  life-history  which  consists  of  only  bare  facts  is  an  in- 
complete and  unsatisfactory  thing.  Although,  as  nas  been 
said,  we  find  little  recorded  of  Mrs.  Radcliffe  except  facts, 
and  very  few  of  those,  there  are  suggestions  here  and  there 
which  may  help  us  to  construct  a  personality. 

For  her  personal  appearance  we  have  to  rely  upon  the 
writer  of  the  sketch  in  the  Annual  Biography  and  Obituary: 

This  admirable  writer,  whom  I  remember  from  about  the 
time  of  her  twentieth  year,  was,  in  her  youth,  of  a  figure  ex- 
quisitely proportioned ;  while  she  resembled  her  father,  and  his 
brother  and  sister,  in  being  low  of  stature.  Her  complexion  was 
beautiful,  as  was  her  whole  countenance,  especially  her  eyes, 
eyebrows,  and  mouth. 

1  For  information  in  regard  to  this  I  am  indebted  to  Professor 
Wilbur  L.  Cress,  of  Yale  University,  who  remembers  seeing  a  stone 
to  Mrs.  Radcliffe  near  the  grave  of  Sterne. 

22  Ann  Rqdcliffe  in  Relation  to  Her  Time 

If  it  be  true  that  Mr.  Radcliffe  was  the  author  of  the 
sketch,  we  should  perhaps  make  some  allowance  for  senti- 
ment in  this  description.  But  he  at  least  does  not  try  to 
show  her  as  endowed  with  all  the  graces,  for  he  says  she  was 
rather  shy  in  company:  'She  had  not  the  confidence  and 
presence  of  mind  without  which,  a  person  conscious  of  being 
observed,  can  scarcely  be  at  ease,  except  in  long-tried  so- 
ciety/ Her  fondness  for  music  we  could  have  inferred 
from  her  books,  if  he  had  not  told  us  of  it.  ^Jusic_plays  a 
prominent  part  in  all  the  novels,  and  her  heroines,  through 
whatever  vicissitudes  they  may  pass,  always  cling  to  their 
musical  instruments. 

Two  incidents  which  he  relates  seem  to  show  an  extreme 
sensitiveness  in  Mrs.  Radcliffe — indeed,  one  might  say, 

Miss  Anna  Seward,  in  a  letter  written  May  2i,  1799,* 
discussing  The  Plays  on  the  Passions,  made  this  remark: 
'Before  their  author  was  known,  I  observed  so  much  of  the 
power  and  defects  of  Mrs.  Radcliffe's  compositions  in  these 
dramas,  as  to  believe  them  hers ;  and  I  hear  she  owns  them.' 
In  two  or  three  subsequent  letters,  Miss  Seward  went  on  to 
discuss  the  plays,  still  attributing  them  to  Mrs.  Radcliffe. 
It  was  not  until  October  7  that  she  owned  herself  mistaken. 
'My  literary  friends  now  assert  that  they  are  not  Mrs.  Rad- 
cliffe's.'2 According  to  Mrs.  Radcliffe's  biographer,  the 
imputation  that  she  could  claim  the  credit  for  work  which 
did  not  belong  to  her  was  the  cause  of  great  grief  and  worry. 
She  tried  to  get  into  touch  with  the  Mrs.  Jackson  whom 
Miss  Seward  had  quoted  as  having  first  informed  her  that 
Mrs.  Radcliffe  owned  the  plays,  but  could  find  out  nothing 
concerning  her. 

Thus  the  subject  was  dropped;    for  to  Miss  Baillie  herself 
Mrs.  Radcliffe  could  address  nothing  but  protestations,  which 

*  Letters  5.  226. 

*  Ibid.,  p.  253. 

Facts  of  Mrs.  Radcliffe' s  Life  23 

could  not  prove  a  negative,  and  which  might  be  held  intrusive; 
as  there  was  no  reason  to  suppose  that  that  lady  had  ever 
credited  the  report  .  .  . 

I  have  been  tedious  upon  this  subject,  but  it  was  a  great  one 
with  the  deceased;  and  if  it  be  possible  that  her  spirit,  now, 
as  I  humbly  hope,  beatified,  can  know  what  is  passing  here, 
may  this  asseveration  of  her  innocence,  solemnly  made  on  her 
behalf,  be  one  of  its  feeblest  gratifications.* 

The  other  matter  which  had  troubled  Mrs.  Radcliffe  was 
a  note  added  to  one  of  Mrs.  Carter's  letters,  which  stated 
that  'Mrs.  Carter  had  no  personal  acquaintance  with  Mrs. 
Radcliffe.1  Mrs.  Radcliffe's  biographer  remarks  in  regard 
to  this : 

This  is  strictly  true;  but  as  the  remark  may  be  misunder- 
stood to  imply  that  Mrs.  Carter  had  rejected,  or  avoided,  or 
would  have  rejected,  or  avoided,  that  acquaintance,  it  cannot 
be  improper  to  show  that  she  had  in  some  measure  sought  it 
The  following  short  correspondence  is  sufficient  upon  the 
subject: — 

'If  Mrs.  Radcliffe  is  not  engaged,  Mrs.  Carter  will  have  the 
pleasure  of  calling  upon  her  about  twelve  o'clock  to-morrow 

'Mrs.  Radcliffe  is  extremely  sorry  that  an  engagement  to  go 

into  the  country  to-morrow,  for  some  time,  on  account  of  Mr. 

R.'s  state  of  health,  which  is  very  critical,  will  deprive  her  of 

«        the  honour  intended  her  by  Mrs.  Carter ;  for  which  she  requests 

Mrs.  C.  to  believe  that  she  has  a  full  and  proper  respect.' 

There  is  no  date  to  either  of  these  notes ;  but  that  of  Mrs. 
Carter  enclosed  the  following  letter: 

Bath,  April  i8th,  1799, 
Dear  Madam, 

I  venture  to  give  you  this  trouble,  at  the  request  of  Mrs. 
Carter,  whose  admirable  talents,  and  far  more  admirable  virtues, 
are  too  well  known  to  need  any  introduction  from  me.  She 
very  much  wishes  to  have  the  pleasure  of  knowing  you;  and 
will  deliver  this  letter,  if  she  has  the  good  fortune  of  finding 
you  at  home.  As  I  am  persuaded  the  acquaintance  must  afford 
mutual  satisfaction,  I  could  not  refuse  the  request  with  which 

1  Annual  Biography  and  Obituary  8.  103. 

24  Ann  Radcliffe  in  Relation  to  Her  Time 

Mrs.  Carter  honoured  me ;  though  it  is  made  on  the  supposition 
of  my  having  some  degree  of  interest  with  you,  to  which  I  have 
no  claim,  except  from  the  very  sincere  admiration  I  have  ever 
felt  for  your  talents,  and  the  regard  and  esteem  with  which 
I  am,  dear  Madam, 
Your  obliged  and  affectionate  humble  servant, 

H.  M.  Bowdler. 

P.S.  If  Mrs.  Carter  does  not  deliver  this  letter  herself,  she 
will,  I  believe,  take  an  early  opportunity  of  waiting  on  you, 
with  a  very  amiable  friend  of  mine,  Miss  Shipley,  who  has 
promised  to  carry  her  in  her  carriage. 

It  certainly  shows  some  excess  of  sensitiveness  to  read 
into  the  statement  that  Mrs.  Carter  did  not  know  Mrs.  Rad- 
cliffe the  idea  that  Mrs.  Carter  did  not  wish  to  know  Mrs. 
Radcliffe.  These  two  instances  rather  incline  us  to  believe 
that  our  author  possessed  something  of  what  is  commonly 
and  indefinitely  known  as  'the  artistic  temperament.'  They 
also  incline  us  to  wonder  whether  this  extreme  sensitiveness 
may  not  account  for  her  withdrawal  from  the  world.  This 
withdrawal  has  been  differently  interpreted,  jeaffreson 
says  of  her1: 

Leading  a  life  of  domestic  seclusion,  and  especially  avoiding 
those  circles  where  rank  loftily  patronizes  literary  celebrity,  and 
mock-genius  fawns  slavishly  on  fashion,  circles  into  which  a 
paltry  vanity  too  often  allures  the  best  authors,  Mrs.  Radcliffe 
was  utterly  unknown  to  the  thousands  of  English  who,  in 
London  and  in  the  country,  were  burning  to  learn  something 
about  her. 

The  writer  of  a  review  jn  the  Literary^  Gazette2  takes  a 
less  kindly  view : 

She  was  ashamed,  (yes,  ashamed)  of  her  own  talents;  and 
was  ready  to  sink  in  tne  earth  at  the  bare  suspicion  of  any  one 
taking  her  for  an  author ;  her  chief  ambition  being  to  be  thought 
a  ladyl 

1  Novels  and  Novelists,  p.  3. 
'June  3,  1826. 

Facts  of  Mrs.  Radcliffe's  Life  25 

It  seems  probable  that  Mrs.  Radcliffe's  feeling  was  not 
one  of  silly  vanity,  but  rather  of  honest  pride.  She  was  not 
willing  to  climb  into  society  by  means  of  her  literary  achieve- 
ments, if  she  was  not  considered  worthy  in  other  respects. 
We  must  remember  that  it  was  not  long  since  the  days  when 
every  literary  man  must  have  his  noble  patron,  when  it  was 
considered  perfectly  allowable  for  a  Chesterfield  to  snub  a 
Johnson.,  Eliza  Meteyard,  speaking  of  the  Wedgwoods, 
says1 : 

Mr.  Josiah  Wedgwood  was  pricked  as  sheriff  for  Dorset- 
shire in  1803,  and  his  year  of  office  was  a  comparatively  bril- 
liant one  in  county  annals.  But,  generally  speaking,  the  family 
led  a  quiet  and  retired  life.  Indeed,  on  the  evidence  of  those 
still  living,  it  was  never  very  cordially  accepted  by  the  proud 
old  local  gentry,  full  of  obsolete  notions  concerning  birth  and 
pedigree.  Nature's  noble  rank,  the  only  rank;  the  possession 
of  a  name  which  needed  only  time  and  knowledge  to  become 
historic ;  the  possession  of  great  wealth,  and  its  intelligent  and 
charitable  use — were  nothing  with  a  generation  whose  notions 
of  pedigree  began  with  the  Conquest,  and  thence  must  have 
due  record  in  parchment  rolls  and  title-deeds.  •  To  be  in  trade, 
or  to  possess  wealth  derived  from  trade,  was  then  a  sufficient 
blot  on  any  man's  escutcheon  to  weigh  heavily  against  the 
worthiest  qualities;  particularly  in  counties  as  far  removed 
from  metropolitan  influence  as  those  of  southern  England. 

Mrs.  Radcliffe  may  have  had  experience  with  people  of 
this  sort,  who  looked  down  upon  her  condescendingly  be- 
cause her  relatives  were  'in  trade/  and  made  up  their  minds 
to  overlook  this  disgrace  when  she  became  a  famous  author. 
\i  so,  we  can  hardly  wonder  at  her  independent  attitude, 
although  it  seems  a  trifle  unfortunate  that  she  cut  herself 
off  from  intercourse. with  other  people  of  literary  interests, 
as  well  as  from  society  at  large. 

Perhaps  we  get  most  suggestion  as  to  Mrs.  Radcliffe's 

personality  in  the  selections  from  her  journals  included  in 

•  Talfourd's  memoir.     We  can  certainly  learn  something  of 

1 A  Group  of  Englishmen,  p.  187. 

26  Ann  Radcliffe  in  Relation  to  Her  Time 

her  literary  tastes;  we  hardly  need  to  have  been  told  that 
Shakespeare  was  her  favorite  author,  for  she  is  constantly 
making  references  to  him.  For  instance,  in  the  trip  to 
Hastings,  July  23,  iSoo1: 

Near  eleven,  before  we  reached  Hastings ;  no  moon ;  star- 
light ;  milky- way  very  lucid ;  seemed  to  rise  out  of  the  sea. 
Solemn  and  pleasing  night-scene.  Glow-worms,  in  great  num- 
bers, shone  silently  and  faintly  on  the  dewy  banks,  like  some- 
thing supernatural.  Judgment  of  Shakespeare  in  selecting  this 
image  to  assist  the  terrific  impression  in  his  ghost  scene. 

Again,  in  the  account  of  her  visit  to  Warwick  Castle,  in 

Near  the  summit  an  embattled  overhanging  gallery,  where 
formerly,  no  doubt,  sentinels  used  to  pace  during  the  night, 
looked  down  upon  the  walls  of  the  Castle,  the  rivers  and  the 
country  far  and  wide,  received  the  watch-word  from  the  sentinel, 
perched  in  the  little  watch-tower,  higher  still  and  seeing  farther 
in  the  moonlight,  and  repeated  it  to  the  soldiers  on  guard  on  the 
walls  and  gates  below.  Before  those  great  gates  and  under- 
neath these  towers,  Shakespeare's  ghost  might  have  stalked; 
they  are  in  the  very  character  and  spirit  of  such  an  apparition, 
grand  and  wild  and  strange ;  there  should,  however,  have  been 
more  extent. 

An  entry  made  during  the  trip  to  Portsmouth  and  the  Isle 
of  Wight,  in  the  autumn  of  1811,  shows  her  feeling  for 
music,  as  well  as  her  constant  reference  to  Shakespeare.8 

How  sweet  is  the  cadence  of  the  distant  surge!  It  seemed, 
as  we  sat  in  our  inn,  as  if  a  faint  peal  of  far-off  bells  mingled 
with  the  sounds  on  shore,  sometimes  heard,  sometimes  lost :  the 
first  note  of  the  beginning,  and  last  of  the  falling  peal,  seeming 
always  the  most  distinct.  This  resounding  of  the  distant  surge 
on  a  rocky  shore  might  have  given  Shakespeare  his  idea  when 
he  makes  Ferdinand,  in  the  Tempest,  hear,  amidst  the  storm, 
bells  ringing  his  father's  dirge;  a  music  which  Ariel  also  com- 
memorates, together  with  the  sea- wave: — 

*  Memoir,  p.  42.     (Gaston  de  Blondeville,  etc.,  Vol.  I.) 

*  Memoir,  p.  60. 
8  Memoir,  p.  79. 

Facts  of  Mrs.  Radcliffe's  Life  27 

'Sea-nymphs  hourly  ring  his  knell, 
Ding,  dong,  bell !' 

In  other  passages  she  quotes  from  Goldsmith  and  from 

A  reference  to  Claude  Lorraine  is  interesting,  since  her 
gentler  landscapes  are  often  compared  to  his.  The  passage 
is  found  in  the  account  of  her  visit  to  Belvedere  House,  in 
June,  iSos1 : 

In  a  shaded  corner,  near  the  chimney,  a  most  exquisite  Claude, 
an  evening  view,  perhaps  over  the  Campagna  of  Rome.  The 
sight  of  this  pictuie  imparted  much  of  the  luxurious  repose  and 
satisfaction,  which  we  derive  from  contemplating  the  finest 
scenes  of  Nature.  Here  was  the  poet,  as  well  as  the  painter, 
touching  the  imagination,  and  making  you  see  more  than  the 
picture  contained.  You  saw  the  real  light  of  the  sun,  you 
breathed  the  air  of  the  country,  you  felt  all  the  circumstances 
of  a  luxurious  climate  on  the  most  serene  and  beautiful  land- 
scape; and,  the  mind  being  thus  softened,  you  almost  fancied 
you  heard  Italian  music  on  the  air — the  music  of  Paisiello ;  and 
such,  doubtless,  were  the  scenes  that  inspired  him. 

The  love  of  nature  which  her  novels  reveal  is  shown  just 
as  strikingly,  and  even  more  effectively,  in  these  informal 
journals.  We  find  one  comment  which  is  interesting  in  view 
of  some  of  her  descriptions: 

I  prefer  rich  beauty  to  wild  beauty,  unless  accompanied  by 
such  shapes  of  grandeur  as  verge  upon  the  sublime.* 

In  an  entry  written  during  the  trip  to  Beachy  Head,  July 
23,  1800,  we  have  not  only  some  remarkably  vivid  descrip- 
tion, but  a  little  more  suggestion  than  usual  of  the  personal 
side  of  Mrs.  Radcliffe3 : 

Walked  to  the  shore  and  along  it,  with  a  .hope  of  having 
some  sight  of  the  sea-front  of  Beachy  Head  from  beneath  it, 

1  Ibid.,  p.  65. 
9  Ibid.,  ^.  54- 
*  Ibid.,  p.  40. 

28  Ann  Raddiffe  in  Relation  to  Her  Time 

though  four  or  five  miles  off.  .  .  .  Within  half  a  mile'  of 
the  great  front,  unable  to  proceed  farther  ;  sat  down  on  a  block, 
wearied  out,  desiring  William  to  go  on;  he  was  soon  hid  by  a 
turn  of  the  cliffs.  Almost  frightened  at  the  solitude  and  vast- 
ness  of  the  scene,  though  Chance^  was  with  me.  Tide  almost 
out  ;  only  sea  in  front  ;  white  cliffs  rising  over  me,  but  not 
impending;  strand  all  around  a  chaos  of  rocks  and  fallen  cliffs, 
far  out  into  the  waves;  sea-  fowl  wheeling  and  screaming;  all 
disappeared  behind  the  point,  beyond  which,  is  the  great  cliff; 
but  we  had  doubled  point  after  point,  in  the  hope  that  this 
would  be  the  next  ;  and  had  been  much  deceived  in  the  distances 
by  these  great  objects;  after  one  remote  point  gained,  another 
and  another  succeeded,  and  still  the  great  cliff  was  unattained; 
the  white  precipices  beautifully  varied  with  plants,  green,  blue, 
yellow  and  poppy.  Wheat-ears  flew  up  often  from  the  beach; 
Chance  pursued  them.  At  length  William  returned,'  having 
been  nearly,  but  not  quite,  in  front  of  the  great  promontory. 
Slowly  and  laboriously  we  made  our  way  back  along  the  beach, 
greatly  fatigued,  the  day  exceedingly  hot,  the  horizon  sulphurous, 
with  lowering  clouds  ;  thunder  rolled  faintly  at  a  distance. 

Perhaps  the  mention  of  the  favorite  dog,  with  the  evi- 
dently close  companionship  of  husband  and  wife,  recalls  to 
those  who  are  familiar  with  the  letters  of  Elizabeth  Barrett 
and  Robert  Browning  that  other  'literary  marriage/  But 
Mr.  Radcliffe,  although  apparently  well  known  and  respected 
in  his  owu  time,  has  lived  in  literary  history  only  as  the 
husband  of  his  wife.  That  even  in  his  lifetime  his  wife's 
fame  had  become  the  chief  distinction  of  the  family  is  shown 
by  the  notice  of  his  mother's  death  in  the  Gentleman's  Maga- 
zine for  February, 

At  the  rectory-house  at  Broughton,  co.  Lincoln,  aged  71,  Mrs. 
Deborah  Radcliffe,  mother  of  the  husband  of  the  celebrated 
Authoress  of  several  highly-esteemed  Novels  and  other  works. 

Mrs.  Radcliffe's  attitude  toward  her  literary  contempo- 
raries is  mentioned  both  in  the  memoir  prefixed  to  Gaston* 

1  Her  favorite  dog. 
'79-  188. 

Facts  of  Mrs.  Radcliffe's  Life 


de  Blondeville,  and  in  the  article  in  the  Annual  Biography 
and  Obituary.    In  the  former  we  have  the  statement1 : 

Much  of  her  leisure  was  spent  in  jreading-  Jthe  liierary_prp- 
ductions  of  the  day,  especially  poetry  and  novels.  Of  the 
latter  works  she  always  spoke  with  entire  freedom  from  jeal- 
ousy, and  devoured  the  earlier  Scotch  novels  with  all  the  avidity 
of  youth,  although  she  felt  deeply  a  slighting  expression  in 
'Waverley/  towards  herself,  which  the  author  might  have  spared. 
Sir  Walter  Scott  has,  however,  made  ample  amends  to  her 
reputation  by  his  elaborate  criticism  prefixed  to  Ballantine's 
edition  of  her  romances. 

The  'slighting  expression*  referred  to  occurs  in  Scott's 
humorous  explanation  of  his  title,2  and  was  probably  not 
meant  to  carry  any  real  sting. 

More  serious  criticisms  by  contemporary  authors  are  sug- 
gested by  her  other  biographer,  when  he  says: 

Of  censure  she  had  as  small  a  share  as  could  be,  considering 
her  distinction ;  and  that,  too,  chiefly  from  the  writers  of  other 
novels  or  romances,  whose  candour  on  the  subject  may  be  sus- 
pected; since  it  is  certain  that  no  writer  of  fictitious  narrative 
is  required,  otherwise  than  by  his  or  her  own  motives,  to  deliver 
an  opinion  upon  contemporaries.  She  never  spoke  of  their 
writings,  except  when  she  could  have  the  delight,  which  she 
often  had,  of  expressing  admiration ;  or  when,  indeed,  she  had 

1  Memoir,  p.  98. 

'  Waverley,  Introductory :  'Had  I,  for  example,  announced  in  my 
frontispiece,  "Waverley,  a  Tale  of  other  Days,"  must  not  every 
novel-reader  have  anticipated  a  castle  scarce  less  than  that  cf 
Udolpho,  of  which  the  eastern  wing  had  long  been  uninhabited,  and 
the  keys  either  lost,  or  consigned  to  the  care  of  some  aged  butler 
or  house-keeper,  whose  trembling  steps,  about  the  middle  of  the 
second  volume,  were  doomed  to  guide  the -hero,  or  heroine,  to  the 
ruinous  precincts?  Would  not  the  owl  have  shrieked  and  the 
cricket  cried  in  my  very  title-page?  and  could  it  have  been  possible 
for  me,  with  a  moderate  attention,  to  decorum,  to  introduce  any 
scene  more  lively  than  might  be  produced  by  the  jocularity  of  a 
clownish  but  faithful  valet,  or  the  garrulous  narrative  of  the 
heroine's  fillc-dc-chambre,  when  rehearsing  the  stories  of  blood  and 
horror  which  she  had  heard  in  the  servants'  hall?' 

30  Ann  Radcliffe  in  Relation  to  Her  Time 

the  other  entertainment,  of  observing  that  those  who  betrayed 
a  wish  to  expel  her  violently  from  the  field  of  literature,  or  at 
least  to  dose  it  roughly  against  her  as  she  retired,  seldom 
failed  to  imitate  her  in  one  part  of  their  works,  after  having 
endeavored  to  proscribe  her  by  another.1 

Mrs.  Radcliffe's  housewifely  talents  are  mentioned  with 
considerable  emphasis.  We  are  told  that  she  'was  minutely 
attentive  to  her  household  affairs,  .  .  .  Although  by  no 
means  disposed  to  parsimony,  she  kept  an  exact  account  of 
daily  disbursements,  until  a  very  short  time  before  her 
death/  Probably  this  attention  to  practical  details  was 
hardly  expected  of  literary  ladies.  Least  "of  all  would  it 
be  looked  for  in  one  whose  imagination  led  her  to  the  work- 
ing out  of  extravagant  adventures,  rather  than  to  the  repro- 
duction of  everyday  life.  But  even  in  her  novels  we  find 
scenes  of  domestic  happiness,  which,  although  they  are  de- 
scribed in  rather  stilted  language,  have  both  sincerity  and 
charm.  An  example  of  this  is  the  account  of  La  Luc's 
family,  in  The  Romance  of  the  Forest;  another  is  the  open- 
ing of  The  Mysteries  of  Udolpho,  which  gives  an  almost  idyl- 
lic picture  of  Emily's  early  life  with  her  father  and  mother. 
Another  suggestion  of  Mrs.  Radcliffe's  devotion  to  her  home 
may  perhaps  be  gathered  from  one  of  her  poems.  These, 
for  the  most  part,  strike  one  as  conventional  exercises  in 
verse,  and  rather  poor  ones  at  that;  they  show  very  little 
of  the  writer's  actual  feeling.  But  December's  Eve  at  Home 
seems  to  me  to  bear  at  least  a  faint  stamp  of  autobiography. 
It  may  serve  to  modify  the  traditional  picture  of  Mrs,  Rad- 
cliffe, sitting  lonely  on  winter  evenings  writing  her  direful 
tales,  while  the  wind  howls  outside  as  drearily  as  it  does 
around  her  imaginary  castle.  Here  we  have  her  winter 
evening  with  the  pleasant  accompaniments  of  light,  music, 
and  friendly  companionship,  including  the  favorite  dog 
which  we  have  met  before : 

1  Annual  Biog.  and  Obit.,  p.  104. 

Facts  of  Mrs.  Radcliffe's  Lift  31 

Welcome  December's  cheerful  night, 
When  the  taper-lights  appear; 
When  the  piled  hearth  blazes  bright, 
And  those  we  love  are  circled  there  1 

And  on  the  soft  rug  basking  lies, 
Outstretched  at  ease,  the  spotted  friend, 
With  glowing  coat  and  half-shut  eyes, 
Where  watchfulness  and  slumber  blend. 

Welcome  December's  cheerful  hour, 
When  books,  with  converse  sweet  combined, 
And  music's  many-gifted  power 
Exalt,  or  soothe  th'  awakened  mind. 

Then,  let  the  snow-wind  shriek  aloud, 
And  menace  oft  the  guarded  sash, 
And  all  his  diapason  crowd, 
As  o'er  the  frame  his  white  wings  dash. 

He  sings  of  darkness  and  of  storm, 

Of  icy  cold  and  lonely  ways; 

But,  gay  the  room,  the  hearth  more  warm, 

And  brighter  is  the  taper's  blaze. 

Then,  let  the  merry  tale  go  round. 
And  airy  songs  the  hours  deceive ; 
And  let  our  heart-felt  laughs  resound, 
In  welcome  to  December's  Eve  I1 

Is  it  fanciful  to  feel  that  from  these  scattered  hints  we 
have  constructed  at  least  the  shadow  of  a  personality?  jQer- 
tainly  there  is  evidence  of  strength  of  character  in  a  woman 
who  could  keep  her  private  and  her  public  life  so  resolutely 
apart,  without,  however,  taking^  refuge  in_ anonymous  publi- 
cation, as  did  many  women  writers  of  her  day.  Even 
though  Mrs.  Elwood  attributes  to  her  a  mistaken  idea  of 
'the  incompatibility  of  the  gentlewoman  and  the  authoress/ 
the  fact  that  she  gave  the  sanction  of  her  name  to  her  pro- 
ductions seems  to  show  that  she  recognized  to  some  extent 
the  dignity  of  literature  as  a  profession.  One  critic  finds 
Mrs.  Radcliffe  a  pure  type  of  femininity : 

1  Posthumous  Works  4.  213. 

32  Ann  Radcliffe  in  Relation  to  Her  Time 

There  is  a  beauty  in  her  mind,  a  gentleness,  a  delicacy,  a 
retiredness  in  her  disposition,  which  is  wholly  feminine,  and 
which  every  man  cannot  but  feel,  who  feels  as  a  man  ought 
towards  woman,1 

It  is  true  that  the  brief  description  of  her  person  and  man- 
ners gives  us  a  decidedly  feminine  impression.  But  there 
are  other  critics  who  have  called  her  mind  'masculine* ;  and, 
indeed,  if  the  novels  were  .anonymous,  it  might  be  difficult 
to  decide  whether  a  man  or  a  woman  was  responsible  for 
The  Mysteries  of  Udolpho  and  The  Italian. 

Perhaps,  as  in  the  case  of  many  people,  the  most  interest- 
ing things  we  discover  about  her  .are  the  inconsistencies. 

She jvas  rejmng^jsdmQst :  shy,  in  disposition-; and  yet  she 

was,  for  many  years,  probably  the  most  widely  known 
woman  in  England.  Her  physician  tells  us  that  she  'pos- 
sessed a  quick  sensibility,'  which  'would  serve  to  increase  the 
warmth  of  the  social  feelings'2 ;  and  yet  we  have  no  record 
of  any  friendships  in  which  she  played  a  part,  no  account 
of  her  by  any  close  associate.  Either  she  succeeded  in  im- 
pressing upon  all  her  friends  her  desire  for  privacy,  or  her 
companionship  with  her  husband  was  so  completely  satisfy- 
ing that  she  did  not  care  for  other  intimacies.  Certainly  her 
husband's  note,  at  the  end  of  the  memoir  which  has  been  so 
often  quoted,  shows  his  devotion,  in  the  desire  to  have  those 
belated  volumes  in  a  sense  a  memorial  to  her: 

The  Editor  of  the  present  Publication,  who  is  not  the  Writer 
of  the  preceding  Memoir,  is  aware,  that  it  would  be  unbecoming 
for  him  to  say  more  of  Works,  written  by  one  so  dear  to  him, 
than  may  be  necessary  to  give  the  Public  an  early  assurance  of 
their  authenticity;  and  that  fact,  he  apprehends,  will  be  suffici- 
ently proved  by  the  distribution,  which  he  has  resolved  to  make, 
of  the  whole  purchase-money  of  the  copyright.  Every  part  of 
that  produce  will  be  paid,  as  it  shall  accrue  to  him,  to  some 
public  charitable  institution  in  England.  The  Lord  Bishop  of 

1  United  States  Review  and  Literary  Gazette,  April,  1827. 
*  Memoir,  p.  105. 

Facts  of  Mrs.  Radcliffe's  Life  33 

Bath  and  Wells,  and  Sir  Walter  Stirling,  B?rt.  in  consideration 
of  the  utility  of  this  purpose,  allow  him  the  honour  of  saying, 
that  they  will  audit  his  account  of  that  distribution.1 

The  very  thing  which  we  are  inclined  to  admire  in  Mrs. 
Radcliffe — her  determination  to  keep  her  private  life  entirely 
separate  from  her  literary  fame — makes  her  an  almost 
impossible  subject  for  biography,  Perhaps,  however,  we  do 
gain  a  sufficiently  definite  impression  to  say  this — the  little 
we  know  of  her  makes  us  wish  that  we  might  know  more. 

1  Posthumous  Works  i.  132. 



Section  i.     Contemporary  Estimates  of  her  Work. 


Mrs.  Radcliffe's  first  book  is  noticed  as  follows  in  the 
Critical  Review  for  September,  1789*: 

The  Castles  of  Athlin  and  Dunbayne,  an  Highland  Story, 
izmo.  35.  Hookham. 

There  is  some  fancy  and  much  romantic  imagery  in  the  con- 
duct of  this  story;  but  our  pleasure  would  have  been  more 
unmixed  had  our  author  preserved  better  the  manners  and 
costume  of  the  Highlands.  He  seems  to  be  unacquainted  with 

The  Monthly  Review  for  December,  1789,*  has  a  comment 
rather  longer,  but  even  less  flattering : 

To  those  who  are  delighted  with  the  marvellous,  whom 
wonders,  and  wonders  only,  can  charm,  the  present  production 
will  accord  a  considerable  degree  of  amusement.  This  kind  of 
entertainment,  however,  can  be  little  relished  but  by  the  young 
and  unformed  mind.  To  men  who  have  passed,  or  even  attained, 
the  meridian  of  life,  a  series  of  events,  which  seem  n,ot  to  have 
their  foundation  in  nature,  will  ever  be  insipid,  if  not  disgustful. 
The  author  of  this  performance  appears  to  have  written  on  the 
principle  of  Mr.  Bayes,  to  elevate  and  surprise.  By  means  of 
trap-doors,  false  pannels,  subterranean  passages,  etc.  etc.  this 
purpose  is  effected :  and  all  this,  as  was  before  intimated,  will 
possibly  have  its  admirers.  But  though  we  are  not  of  the  number 
of  such  readers,  we  must  honestly  confess,  that  this  little  work  is 
to  be  commended  for  its  moral;  as  also  for  the  good  senti- 
ments and  reflections  wfeich  occasionally  occur  in  it. 

The  Scots  Magazine,  in  its  Appendix  for  1789,*  repeats 
the  last  two  or  three,  lines  of  the  notice  just  quoted — lines 



Work  ;  35 

which  furnish  a  shining  example  of  the  faint  praise  that 
damns.  Especially  does  this  phrase  seem  apt  as  we  look 
through  the  book-reviews  of  the  time.  The  reviewers  seem 
to  have  had  a  bias  toward  morality,  but  they  rarely  motion 
its  presence  except  when  there  is  a  total  absence  of  anything 
else  worthy  of  praise. 

Mrs.  Radcliffe's  first  attempt,  then,  created  little  excite- 
ment in  the  literary  world.  It  is  rather  interesting,  in  view 
of  Scott's  later  achievements,  that  she  began  with  a  High- 
land story,  but  just  why  she  called  it  a  Highland  story  is 
hard  to  understand.  Probably  the  Highlands  of  Scotland 
had  for  her  a  suggestion  of  romance ;  but  her  imagination 
had  not  developed  to  such  a  degree  that  it  could,  as  in  the 
later  books,  almost  take  the  place  of  knowledge.  Placing 
her  castle  on  the  'north-east  coast  of  Scotland,  in  the  most 
romantic  part  of  the  Highlands/  and  bestowing  Scotch 
names  on  a  few  of  her  characters,  were  her  only  steps  in 
the  direction  of  local  color. 

The  reception  of  the  second  book,  A  Sicilian  Romance, 
was  rather  more  encouraging.  The  Monthly  Review1  said 
of  it: 

In  this  tale,  we  meet  with  something  more  than  the  alternate 
tears  and  rapture  of  tender  lovers.  The  writer  possesses  a 
happy  vein  of  invention,  .and  a  correctness  of  taste,  which 
enable  her  to  rise  above  the  level  of  mediocrity.  Romantic 
scenes,  and  surprizing1 'events,  are  exhibited  in  elegant  and  ani- 
mated language. 

The  Critical  Review2  was  somewhat  less  enthusiastic,  but 
took  the  story  much  more  seriously  than  its  predecessor : 

This  very  interesting  novel  engages  the  attention,  in  defiance 

*  of  numerous  improbabilities  and  'hair-breadth  scapes'  too  often 
repeated.    Perhaps,  on  second  reading,  these  might  be  still  more 
disgusting;  but  it  is*an  experiment  that  we  can  scarcely  venture 
to  try  but  with  modern  novels  of  the  first  class.    We  found  the 

'3.91,  September,  1790. 

*  N.  Ar.  i.  350.    March,  1791. 

36  Ann  Radcliffe  in  Relation  to  Her  Time 

tale,  we  have  said,  very  entertaining,  and  involved  with  art, 
developed  with  skill,  and  the  event  concealed  with  great  dex- 
terity. If  our  author  again  engaged  in  .this  task,  we  would 
advise  her  not  to  introduce  so  many  caverns  with  such  peculiar 
concealments,  or  so  many  spring-locks  which  open  only  on  one 

The  Scots  Magazine*  again  echoes  the  Monthly  Review; 
its  reviews  seem  to  consist  of  abridgements  of  those  in  other 

^Sicilian  Romance,  it  seemsf  attracted  ^pm^attentinn 
other  than  that  of  reviewers  who  read  it  as  a  matter  of  duty. 
Mrs.  Elizabeth  Carter,  in  her  Letters  to  Mrs.  Montagu, 
writes : 

I  have  been  reading  with  much  pleasure  the  'Sicilian  Romance/ 
The  language  is  elegant,  the  scenery  exquisitely  painted,  the 
moral  good,  and  the  conduct  and  conclusion  of  the  fable,  I 
think,  original.  Have  you  read  it?  And  do  you  know  the  name 
of  the  Authoress?  I  do  not.* 

All  the  announcements  of  the  book  had  read,  By  the 
Authoress  of  the  Castles  of  Athlin  and  Dunbayne.  The 
account  of  The  Romance  of  the  Forest,  which  appears  in 
the  Critical  Review  for  April,  I792,3  has  this  heading: 

The  Romance  of  the  Forest ;  interspersed  with  some  Pieces  of 
Poetry.  By  the  Authoress  of  'A  Sicilian  Romance'  etc.  3  vols. 
9s.  Sewed.  Hookham. 

The  writer  begins  his  review  by  saying: 

We  spoke  with  respect  of  the  Sicilian  Romance;  but  this 
lady,  for  by  the  term  (authoress)  we  must  suppose  it  to  be  the 
production  of  a  female's  pen,  has  greatly  exceeded  her  first 

He  adds  a  note  to  this  effect :  'In  the  advertisement  to  the 
second  edition,  she  styles  herself  Ann  Radcliffe,  and  we  have 

1 52.  438.    September,  1790, 
'3.323.    December  15,  1790. 
*N.  Ar.4,458.    April,  1792. 

Work  37 

no  authority  for  prefixing  Miss  or  Mrs/  The  whole  review 
is  in  a  tone  of  such  decided  enthusiasm  that  the  author 
seems  to  feel  he  may  be  criticized  for  going  too  far.  He 
stands  his  ground,  however,  in  his  concluding  words : 

If  it  may  appear,  that  we  have  commended  this  novel  with  an 
eager  warmth,  we  can  only  say,  in  apology  for  it,  that  we  have 
copied  our  real  sentiments.  The  lady  is  wholly  unknown  to  us, 
.  and  probably  will  ever  continue  so.  We  must,  however,  con- 
sider The  Romance  of  the  Forest*  as  one  of  the  first  works  in 
this  line  of  novel-writing  that  we  have  seen. 

Other  reviews  are  equally  commendatory.  The  English 
Review1  begins  its  discussion  with  the  statement : 

Of  modern  novels,  The  Romance  of  the  Forest  must  certainly 
be  allowed  to  rank  among  the  first  class. 

The  Monthly  Review*  says: 

'We  have  seldom  met  with  a  fiction  which  has  more  forcibly 
fixed  the  attention,  or  more  agreeably  interested  the  feelings, 
throughout  the  whole  narrative.' 

Both  these  reviewers  give  long  extracts  from  the  novel,  to 
justify  their  praise  of  the  author's  style.  In  the  European 
Magazine  for  October,  I795,8  we  have  a  reference  to  the 
book,  which  the  writer  begins  as  follows:  *  4 

In  Mrs.  Radcliffe's  'Romance  of  the  Forest/  (a  Novel  far 
superior,  I  think,  to  her  'Mysteries  of  Udolpho')  we  have  some 
pleasing  speculations  on,  the  reunion  of  friends  in  a  future 
state  of  existence;  they  deserve  to  be  detached  from  the  volume, 
and  inserted  in  your  valuable  miscellany. 

This  quotation  introduces  a  question  upon  which  there 
has  been  some  difference  of  opinion — that  of  the  relative 
literary  value  of  The  Romance  of  the  Forest  and  The  Mys- 
teries of  Udolpho.  Mrs.  Barbauld,  in  her  preface  to  Mrs. 

1 20.  352.    November,  1792. 
'8.82.    May,  1792. 

j  ?     -  t  ^ — • 

1 28. 230.    October,  1795. 

38  Ann  Radcliffe  in  Relation  to  Her  Time 

Radcliffe's  works,1  speaks  of  The  Romance  of  the  Forest 
as  'the  first  production  of  this  lady,  in  which  her  peculiar 
genius  was  strikingly  developed,  .  .  .  and  in  some  re- 
spects .  .  .  the  best/  Later  on,  in  referring  to  The 
Mysteries  of  Udolpho,  she  says  :  'It  abounds  still  more  with 
instances  of  mysterious  and  terrific  appearances,  but  has 
perhaps  less  of  character,  and  a  more  imperfect  story.' 
George  Moir,  on  the  other  hand,  in  the  seventh  edition  of 
the  Encyclopedia  Britannica,  gives  his  opinion  as  follows: 

It  may  be  said  in  a  word,  that  th.e  Romance  of  the  Forest, 
founded  on  a  French  cause  celebre,  has  the  fewest  faults  ;  that 
the  Italian,  though  extremely  unequal,  and  in  the  third  volume 
a  comparative  failure,  contains  the.  most  striking  and  dramatic 
scenes  ;  but  that  the  Mysteries  of  Udolpho  is  on  the  whole,  and 
justly,  considered  the  best.1 

Miss  Anna  Seward,  in  a  letter  written  August  3,  1794,* 


Her  Mysteries  of  Udolpho  is  a  much  superior  work  to  her 
Romance  of  the  Forest.  The  first  volume  of  that  is  fine,  the 
rest  heavy,  uninteresting,  and  contain  very  affected  writing. 

Some  of  the  reviewers  of  The  Mysteries  of  Udolpho  , 
while  giving  it  high  praise?  seem  reluctant  to  consider  it  an 
advance  over  the  earlier  book.  '  For  instance,  the  Critical 
Review  f  or 

With  regard  to  the  work  before  us,  while  we  acknowledge  the 
extraordinary  powers  of  Mrs.  Radcliffe,  some  readers  will  be 
inclined  to  doubt  whether  they  have  been  exerted  -in  the  present 
work  with  equal  effect  as  in  the  Romance  of  the  Forest. 

A  preference  for  the  one  work  or  the  other  is  probably  a 
matter  of  personal  fancy,  although  there  may  be  some  justice 
in  the  comment  of  a  reviewer  that  the  author  might  write 
a  better  story  than  The  Mysteries  of  Udolpho  'when  no 

1  British  Novelists,  Vol.  43. 

"  Treatises  on  Poetry,  Modern  Romance  and  Rhetoric,  pp.  197-206. 

'  Letters  3.  389. 

4  2.  262. 

Work  39 

tonger  disposed  to  sacrifice  excellence  to  quantity,  and 
lengthen  out  a  story  for  the  sake  of  filling  an  additional 
volume/1  Mrs.  Kavanagh  remarks  that  the  title  of  The 
Romance  of  the  Forest  suggests  some  of  the  most  delightful 
associations  in  English  poetry — Robin  Hood,  and  the  Forest 
of  Arden;  that  after  Shakespeare  there  is  a  great  gap  in 
forest-literature,  and  that  Mrs.  Radcliffe  is  the  first  after 
him  to  give  us  once  more  woodland  scenery  in  its  freshness 
and  beauty. 

Certainly  the  charm  of  the  out-of-doors  is  felt  in  The 
Romance  of  the  Forest.  Although  the  scene  is  presumably 
in  France,  it  was  undoubtedly  the  author's  love  of  English 
woods  that  inspired  her  descriptions.  Her  devotion  to 
Windsor  Forest  is  mentioned  by  her  biographers;  we  are 
told  that  she  came  to  know  certain  trees  there,  and  to  feel 
a  special  fondness  for  them  as  individuals.  English  scenery 
was  responsible  for  this  new  picture  of  life  in  a  forest,  just 
as  unmistakably  as  Shakespeare's  knowledge  of  English 
woodlands  gave  us  the  Forest  of  Arden.  -^ 

One  tiling  is  beyond  question.  By  the  time  of  the  publi- 
cation of  The  Mysteries  of  Udolpho,  Mrs.  Radcliffe's  place 
as  an  author  was  assured.  The  appearance  of  a  new  book 
bearing  her  name  was  evidently  an  important  event  in  the 
literary  world,  for  it  is  heralded  fcr  weeks  in  the  columns  of 
the  London  Chronicle,  and  the  notices  are  always  placed  in 
a  prominent  position,  as  if  the  book  were  considered  of 
especial  importance.  The  first  advertisement,  on  Thursday, 
April  24,  1794  (77-391),  reads  as  follows: 

In  a  few  Days  will  be  published, 
In  Four  very  large  Volumes  Twelves, 

The  Mysteries  of  Udolpho :  A  Romance ;  interspersed  with  -»ome 
Pieces  of  Poetry,  etc. 

By  Ann  Radcliffe, 

Author  of  the  Romance  of  the  Forest,  &c. 
Printed  for  G.  G.  and  J.  Robinson,  Paternoster  row. 

1  Critical  Review  2.  372.    August,  1794, 


40  Ann  Radcliffe  in  Relation  to  Her  Time 

The  first  notice  of  actual  publication  occurs  in  the  London 
Chronicle  for 'Saturday,  May  to,  1794. 

Incidentally  it  may  be  remarked  that  Mrs.  Radcliffe's 
change  of  publisher  possibly  indicates  her  growing  fame  and 
prosperity  as  an  author.  In  Rees  and  Britain's  Literary 
London,  from  1779  to  1853  (P-  37 )>  tms  reference  is  made 
to  the  Robinsons : 

The  Robinsons,  at  the  end  of  the  eighteenth  and  beginning  of 
I  the  nineteenth  centuries,  when  I  first  became  acquainted  with  the 
firm,  carried  on  the  largest  business  of  any  house  in  London, 
as  general  publishers,  and  also  as  wholesale  and  retail  book- 
sellers. ,  .  .  They  published  largely  books  of  considerable 
size  and  of  great  value.  The  head  of  the  firm  was  considered 
to  have  an  excellent  judgment  in  the  difficult  and  often  critical 
undertaking  of  the  superintendence  and  management  of  the 
literary  concerns  of  a  publishing  establishment.  He  greatly 
respected  meritorious  authors,  and  acted  with  singular  liberality 
in  his  pecuniary  dealings  with  them. 

That  a  firm  of  such  reputation  was  willing  to  pay  £500 
for  a  work  of  fiction  is  testimony  to  the  distinction  which  the 
author  had  already  attained. 

The  reviews  of  The  Mysteries  of  Udolpho  are  many,  and, 
for  the  most  part,  distinctly  favorable.  Almost  invariably 
they  are  given  the  dignity  of  a  leading  place  in  the  magazine, 
and  most  of  the  reviewers  indulge  in  copious  extracts  to 
illustrate  the  author's  style.  A  few  quotations  will  show  the 
general  tone  of  the  reviews. 

The  Monthly  Review  for  November,  I794,1  in  a  long  and 
enthusiastic  account  of  the  book,  contains  these  comments : 

The  works  of  this  ingenious  writer  not  only  possess,  in  com- 
mon with  many  other  productions  of  the  same  class,  the  agree- 
able qualities  of  correctness  of  sentiment  and  elegance  of  style, 
but  are  also  distinguished  by  a  rich  vein  of  invention,  which  sup- 
plies an  endless  variety  of  incidents  to  fill  the  imagination  of 
the  reader ;  by  an  admirable  ingenuity  of  contrivance  to  awaken 
his  curiosity,  and  to  bind  him  in  the  chains  of  suspence;  and 

1  IS.  278. 

Work  41 

by  a  vigour  of  conception  and  a  delicacy  of  feeling  which  are 
capable  of  producing  the  strongest  sympathetic  emotions, 
whether  of  pity  or  terror. 

.  .  .  The  embellishments  of  the  work  are  highly  finished. 
The  descriptions  are  rich,  glowing,  and  varied :  they  discover  a 
vigorous  imagination  and  an  uncommon  command  of  language; 
and  many  of  them  would  furnish  admirable  subjects  for  the 
pencil  of  the  painter. 

The  British  Critic1  has  a  review  almost  as  appreciative: 

We  so  very  seldom  find  in  a  work  of  imagination,  those  quali- 
ties combined,  which  are  necessary  to  its  successful  accomplish- 
ment, that  when  the  event  does  happen,  we  distinguish  it  as  a 
place  of  repose  from  our  severer  labours,  and  are  happy  to  be- 
guile the  hours  of  weariness  and  chagrin  beneath  the  shade 
which  fancy  spreads  around.  A  tale,  regularly  told,  neither 
offending  probability  by  its  extravagance,  nor  fatiguing  by  its 
want  of  vivacity  or  incident,  has  ever  been  esteemed  among 
those  labours  of  the  mind  which  the  critic  cannot  disdain  to 
commend,  nor  genius  to  introduce,  and  when  it  is  further  em- 
bellished by  the  charms  of  good  writing,  is  the  vehicle  of  ingenu- 
ous sentiments,  and  inculcates  the  purest  morality,  it  eminently 
takes  the  lead  in  that  class  of  writings,  which  is  professedly 
designed  for  entertainment. 

Mrs-.  Radcliffe  had  before  obtained  considerable  reputation, 
from  the  cultivation  of  this  branch  of  literature,  and  we  are 
happy  that  it  has  fallen  to  our  province  to  record  one  of  the 
best  and  most  interesting  of  her  works. 

The  onl%  serious.  .Criticism  brought  against  the  book  is  in 
regard  to  the  superabundance  of  description.  The  Euro- 
pean Magazine*  speaks  of  the  author  as  'minute  even  to 
tedious  prolixity  in  her  local  descriptions/  but  the  reviewer 
takes  off  the  curse  from  this  criticism  by  adding,  'a  weight 
which  would  have  hung  with  deadening  power  about  the 
neck  of  a  composition  not  [animated  by  the  utmost  vigour  of 

*4.  no.    August,  1794. 
'25.433.    June,  1794. 

42  Ann  Radcliffe  in  Relation  to  Her  Time 

Although  some  of  the  critics  differ  as  to  the  relative 
literary  value  of  The  Romance  of  t\w  Forest  and  The  Mys- 
teries of  Udolpho,  most  of  them  agree  that  the  latter  was, 
of  all  Mrs.  Radcliffe's  novels,  the  most  popular.  This  popu- 
larity is  natural  enough.  The^jjreater  complication  of  the 
plot,  the  wider  range  of  experience  to  which  we  are  intro- 
duced, the  increased  number  of  thrills  and  surprises,  and  the 
really  remarkable  description  of  the  Castle  of  Udolpho,  all 
were  calculated  to  appeal  to  the  popular  taste.  Even  now 
the  charm  has  not  wholly  departed,  if,  forgetting  to  read 
critically,  we  submit  ourselves  to  its  power.  We  feel  a  little 
shiver  of  apprehension  when  the  black  pall  on  the  bed  slowly 
begins  to  rise.  We  share  Emily's  excitement  and  hope 
when,  in  her  chamber  in  the  gloomy  castle,  she  hears  the 
notes  of  a  familiar  song,  and  thinks  that  her  lover  is  near. 
Talfourd's  judgment  is  probably  right  when  he  says,  'Of  all 
the  romances  in  the  world,  this  is  perhaps  the  most  ro- 
mantic/1 It  is,  possibly,  the  excess  of  romance  which  has 
made  the  world  tire  of  it. 

Mrs.  Radcliffe's  next  work  was  an  attempt  in  an  entirely 
different  field — an  account  of  her  trip  through  Holland  and 
Germany,  and  her  visit  to  the  English  Lake-region.  The 
notice  of  this  publication  appears  in  the  London  Chronicle 
for  May  21,  1795.  It  received  as  much  attention  in  the 
magazines  as  the  novels  had — in  fact,  even  more,  so  far  as 
space  was  concerned,  for  some  of  the  magazines  gave  a 
review  long  enough  to  be  divided  among  two  or  three 
numbers.  Works  of  travel  were  popular  at  that  time,  and 
it  seems  to  have  been  generally  conceded  that  Mrs.  Rad-  :>, 
cliffe's  talent  for  description  peculiarly  fitted  her  for  such  « 

Y   writing.     It  was  suggested,  however,  in  some  of  the  reviews, 
that  she  put  too  much  of  her  strength  into  description  of 

1    natural  scenery,  instead  of  studying  men  and  manners.     One 

~~ir,  p.  126. 

Work  43 

f^reviewer  remarked  that  she  looked  at  scenes  'not  with  the 
eye  of  a  philosopher,  but  a  landscape  painter.'1 

The  same  review  contains  Mrs.  Radcliffe's  explanation  of 
her  use  of  the  term  we : 

She  observes,  in  a  preface,  'that  her  journey  having  been 
performed  in  the  company  of  her  nearest  relative  and  friend, 
the  account  of  it  has  been  written  so  much  from  their  mutual 
observation,  that  there  would  be  a  deception  in  permitting  the 
book  to  appear  without  some  acknowledgment  which  may  dis- 
tinguish it  from  works  entirely  her  own.  The  title-page  would, 
therefore,  have  contained  the  joint  names  of  her  husband  and 
herself,  if  this  mode  of  appearing  before  the  public,  besides 
being  thought  by  that  relative  a  greater  acknowledgment  than 
was  due  to  his  share  of  the  work,  had  not  seemed  liable  to  the 
imputation  of  a  design  to  attract  attention  by  extraordinary 
novelty.  It  is,  however,  necessary  to  her  own  satisfaction,  that 
some  notice  should  be  taken  of  this  assistance.' 

Modern  readers  would  probably  find  the  Journey  through 
Holland  too  exclusively  a  work  of  description.  The  books 
of  travel  which  are  popular  to-day  have  more  of  the  narra- 
tive-interest. Most  of  us  would  like  better  the  informal 
notes  of  her  journal,  from  which  a  few  extracts  have  already 
been  given.  To  quote  from  a  review  of  the  Posthumous 

They  are  far  more  interesting,  and  a  thousand  times  more 
graphic,  than  her  published  Journal  of  her  tour  to  Holland  and 
Germany,  where  much  of  the  original  spirit  of  the  sketches 
seems  to  have  evaporated  in  the  process  of  preparation  for  the 

•  But  for  her  contemporaries  the  Journey  evidently  pos- 
sessed great  interest,  and  some  reviewers  even  seemed  to 
feel  that  it  was  a  work  which  deserved  more  serious  con- 
sideration than  the  novels.  The  Critical  Review*  for 
instance,  remarks: 

*  English  Review  26.  I.    July,  1795. 
1 N.  Ar.  14.  241.    July,  1795. 

44  Ann  Radcliffe  in  Relation  to  Her  Time 

The  character  of  Mrs.  Radcliffe's  pen,  for  a  peculiar  felicity 
in  the  description  of  objects  of  fancy,  has  been  acknowledged 
by  universal  suffrage.  The  repeated  instances  of  this  given  in 
the  'Mysteries  of  Udolpho,'  where  the  objects  are  fanciful,  and 
the  descriptions  consequently  arbitrary,  and  sometimes  redund- 
ant, excited  a  public  wish  that  she  might  engage  in  a  work 
where  the  same  talent  should  be  necessarily  employed  to 
delineate  the  grandeur,  beauty,  or  sublimity  of  real  scenery,  and 
where  the  recurrence  of  description,  following  only  the  exhi- 
bitions of  nature,  should  not  be  oppressive.  Such  a  work  is 
now  before  us,  and  we  have  not  been  disappointed  in  the  ex- 
pectations we  were  taught  to  form. 

Another  bit  of  testimony  as  to  contemporary  opinion  is 
given  by  Thomas  Green  in  his  Diary  of  a  Lover  of  Litera- 
ture, in  the  entry  for  May  26,  1800: 

Read  Mrs.  Radcliffe's  Tour  to  the  Lakes.  Much  might  per- 
haps be  expected  from  this  Lady's  well  known  powers  of 
description,  exerted  on  so  congenial  a  theme:  but  to  paint  from 
the  imagination,  and  to  copy  nature,  are  such  different  achieve- 
ments, that  I  was  surprised,  I  confess,  to  find  that  she  had 
succeeded  so  well,  and  failed  so  little.  Her  pictures,  though 
somewhat  overwrought  and  heavy  compared  with  the  expressive 
etchings  of  Gray,  exhibit  as  clear  distinct  and  forcible  images 
to  the  mind's  eye,  as  it  is  well  possible  for  words  to  convey. 
Such  a  series  of  them  'where  pure  description  holds  the  place  of 
sense,'  would  probably  pall  on  most  palates ;  but  so  strong  a 
passion  do  I  feel  for  the  keen  delights  of  picturesque  and  moun- 
tain scenery,  that  I  was  gratified,  I  own,  to  the  last* 

The  Italian  was  first  announced  in  December,  1796. 
About  this  book  there  has  been  more  difference  of  opinion 
than  about  any  of  the  others.  To  some  critics  it  was  the 
high-water  mark  of  Mrs.  Radcliffe's  achievement;  to  others  , 
it  showed  a  distinct  falling-off.  Modern  opinion  would 
perhaps  incline  toward  the  former  view.  This  story  has 
more  unity  of  plot  than  the  others ;  it  has  more  real  delinea- 
tion of  character;  and  its  suggestion  of  the -supernatural  is, 
if  anything,  niore  impressive  than  that  in  The  Mysteries  of 

1  Diary  of  a  Lover  of  Literature,  p.  225. 


Work  45 

Most  of  the  reviewers  unite  in  considering  the  monk,  Sche- 
doni, as  the  most  successful  of  Mrs.  Radcliffe's  characters. 
Some,  indeed,  find  fault  with  him  as  being  too  appallingly 
wicked,  while  others  assert  that,  when  she  tries  to  soften  his 
character  by  a  touch  of  parental  affection,  he  becomes  unreal. 
But  certainly  he  makes  upon  us  the  impression  of  a  person- 
ality; he  is  not,  as  Hazlitt  said  of  her  heroes — Valancourt, 
Theodore,  and  the  rest — merely  'a  sounding  name,  a  graceful 

One  interesting  comment  on  the  book  is  made  by  a  writer 
in  the  United  States  Review  and  Literary  Gazette? 

No  one,  who  thinks  of  the  new  power  which  seems  suddenly 
to  have  developed  itself  in  The  Italian/  but  must  feel  sorry  that 
she  did  not  set  about  another  work  while  her  mind  was  yet 
glowing  with  the  exercise  of  that  she  had  just  finished.  We 
allude  to  the  masterly  dialogues  in  that  greatest  of  her  works, 
particularly  in  the  interview  between  the  Marchesa  and  Schedoni 
in  the  church  of  San  Nicolo;  that  between  Schedoni  and 
Spalatro,  when  the  latter  refuses  to  murder  Ellena ;  and  in  the 
scene,  also,  in  which  Schedoni  discovers  Ellena  to  be  his 
daughter.  The  deadly  shrewdness,  the  sophistry  with  a  mixture 
of  emotion  in  the  first ;  the  close,  abrupt  and  highly  impassioned 
character  of  the  next,  and  those  following,  have  seldom  been 
approached  by  any  novelist.  It  is  this  which  puts  life,  indeed, 
into  a  story,  and  when  we  think  what  Mrs.  Radcliffe  might  have 
done,  had  she  gone  on  thus,  we  cannot  but  feel  sad  at  what  we 
have  lost. 

This  praise  seems,  on  the' whole,  just.  Although  passages 
can  be  found  in  The  'Italian  in  which  the  conversation  is 
artificial  and  out  of  character,  and  although  the  faithful 
servant  Paulo  strikes  us  as  being  wearisomely  prosy  rather 
than  amusing,  the  passages  mentioned  are  certainly  different 
from  anything  found  in  the  earlier  novels.  Mrs.  Radcliffe 
here  uses  dialogue  as  a  means  both  of  revealing  character 
and  of  advancing  the  action  ;t  and  she  does  it  skilfully. 

1  Sketches  and  Essays,  p.  267. 
'a  i.    April,  1827. 

46  Ann  Radcliffe  in  Relation  to  Her  Time 

Schedoni  as  a  character  is  inevitably  connected  with 
Schedoni  as  an  actor  in  the  most  dramatic  scene  of  the  book. 
It  is  melodrama  if  you  like,  but  it  is  melodrama  raised  to  its 
most  successful  pitch,  if  we  can  trust  its  effect  upon  con- 
temporary opinion. 

The  Monthly  Review1  says  of  this  scene : 

The  part,  however,  which  displays  the  greatest  genius,  and 
the  most  force  of  description,  is  the  account  of  the  scenes  which 
passed  in  the  lone  house  on  the  shore  of  the  Adriatic,  between 
Schedoni,  Ellena,  and  Spalatro  :— the  horrible  sublimity  which 
characterizes  the  discovery  made  by  the  former  that  Ellena 
was  his  daughter,  at  the  instant  in  which  he  was  about  to  stab 
her,  is  perhaps  unparalleled. 

The  Edinburgh  Review,2  in  commenting  upon  Mrs.  Rad- 
cliffe's  powers  of  description,  refers  to  the  same  passage : 

Do  we  not  actually  see  before  us  that  lone  house  by  the 
Mediterranean,  with  the  scudding  clouds,  the  screaming  sea- 
birds,  the  stormy  sea— the  scene  selected  for  the  murder  of 
Ellena  by  her  father  ? 

Dr.  Nathan  Drake,  in  his  Literary  Hours  (i.  361),  calls 
Mrs.  Radcliffe  'the  Shakespeare  of  Romance  Writers/  and 
goes  on  to  say : 

In  her  last  piece,  termed  The  Italian,  the  attempt  of  Schedoni 
to  assassinate  the  amiable  and  innocent  Ellena,  whilst  confined 
with  banditti  in  a  lone  house  on  the  sea-shore,  is  wrought  up 
in  so  masterly  a  manner,  that  every  nerve  vibrates  with  pity 
and  terror,  especially  at  the  moment  when,  about  to  plunge  a 
dagger  into  her  bosom,  he  discovers  her  to  be  his  daughter; 
every  word,  every  action  of  the  shocked  and  self-accusing  Con- 
fessor, whose  character  is  marked  with  traits  almost  super- 
human, appal  yet  delight  the  reader,  and  it  is  difficult  to  ascertain 
whether  ardent  curiosity,  intense  commiseration,  or  apprehen- 
sion that  suspends  almost  the  faculty  of  breathing,  be,  in  the 
progress  of  this  well-written  story,  most  powerfully  excited. 

*22.  282.    March,  1797. 
•  July,  1834. 



It  must  be  admitted  that  there  were  opinions  less  favorable 
to  the  book.  Green  said,1  'This  work  will  maintain,  but  not 
extend  Mrs.  Radcliffe's  fame  as  a  novelist.'  Anna  Seward2 
declared  that  'the  story,  ...  as  usual,  toils  after  the 
terrible ;  but  produces  it,  surely,  with  less  effect  than  in  her 
former  productions.1 

A  writer  in  the  English  Review*  seems  to  account  very 
reasonably  for  the  disappointment  which  some  people  felt  in 
reading  The  Italian : 

It  was  impossible  to  raise  curiosity  and  expectation  to  a. 
higher  pitch  than  she  has  done  in  her  Mysteries  of  Udolpho; 
yet  these  mysteries  she  accounted  for  in  a  natural  manner. 
The  reader  of  The  Italian  now  before  us  sits  down  with  Ihis 
conviction.  As  children  who  have  been  frighted,  by  an  ideal 
bugbear,  and  afterwards  convinced  that  there  was  nothing  in 
it,  will  cry,  'No,  nol  we  know  what  it  is;  you  cannot  frighten 
us  again :'  so,  we  acknowledge,  does  the  perusal  of  the  present 
romance  affect  us. 

It  seems  very  probable  that,  had  The  Italian  appeared  be- 
fore Mrs.  Radcliffe  had  so  thoroughly  accustomed  the  public 
to  her  habit  of  explaining  away  her  terrors,  it  would  have 
been  universally  considered,  as  it  was  considered  by  many 
critics,  the  best  of  her  works,  Scott  speaks  with  especial 
enthusiasm  of  the  opening  scene  of  the  story,4  and  he  is  in- 
clined to  defend  the  scenes  dealing  with  the  Inquisition, 
which  had  received  rather  more  unfavorable  criticism  than 
the  rest  of  the  book. 

The  Italian  was  the  last  publication  which  appeared  in 
Mrs.  Radcliffe's  lifetime,  with  the  exception  of  a  slim  volume 
of  poems,  dated  London,  1816.  This  volume  has  the  fol- 
lowing rather  puzzling  preface : 

The  Editor  of  this  little  volume  trusts  that  he  need  not  offer 
any  apology  for  presenting  it  to  the  public.    The  genius  of  the 

1  Diary  of  a  Lover  of  Literature,  p.  28. 

'  Letters  4.  382. 

'28.  574.    December,  1796. 

4  Lives  of  the  Novelists,  p.  218. 

48  Ann  Radcliffe  in  Relation  to  Her  Time 

author  has  been  universally  acknowledged.  The  merit  of  the 
different  pieces  which  compose  this  collection,  is  variable  —  some 
are  beautiful,  and  bear  every  mark  of  a  poetical  imagination. 
Her  genius  was  of  the  sterling  kind,  and  partook  much  of  the 
masculine  character  :  and  the  Editor  feels  assured  that  this 
volume  will  be  welcome  to  those  who  have  repeatedly  been 
delighted  by  the  efforts  of  that  genius  1  whose  souls  have  started, 
and  whose  eyes  have  wept,  at  the  scenes  of  terror  and  pity  which 
she  has  portrayed.  That  her  genius  was  poetical  is  proved  by 
the  beautiful  and  sublime  descriptions  of  scenery  with  which  her 
romances  abound  —  descriptions  seldom  equalled,  and,  perhaps, 
no  where  surpassed. 

The  Editor  has  only  to  add,  that  the  pieces  which  occur  be- 
yond page  95  are  his  own,  with  whatever  faults,  therefore,  they 
are  chargeable,  they  are  to  be  placed  to  his  own  account. 

One  would  suppose  that  such  a  preface  could  be  written 
only  by  a  close  relative  of  the  author,  and  that  only  one 
nearly  connected  would  presume  to  finish  out  a  volume  of 
her  poems  with  his  own.  But  when  we  remember  the  care- 
ful reserve  with  which  Mr.  Radcliffe  spoke  of  his  wife's 
work,  even  after  her  death,  we  feel  that  this  is  not  at  all  in 
his  style.  Moreover,  the  past  tense  used  throughout  would 
prevent  us  from  ascribing  it  to  him,  for  it  would  seem  to 
imply  that  the  writer  supposed  Mrs.  Radcliffe  to  be  no  longer 
living.  No  help  can  be  found  in  reviews,  lor  the  volume 
seems  to  have  attracted  no  attention.  . 

JVVith  so  long  a  gap  —  from  'The  Italian  .in^i796  to  her 
posthumous  works  in  iS^S-r-one  might  f  ancy  tbat~Mrs7  Rad- 
cliiYe  would  have  been  entirely  forgotten.  Nothing  shows 
more  conclusively  the  place  she  had  occupieJlrt  pyhTTr  favnf 
than  the  lively  interest  with  which,  thes£-last  volumes. 

received.^  The  book  was  advertised,  before  its  publication, 
even  more  extensively  than  the  earlier  ones  had  been.  The 
Morning  Chronicle  began  announcing  it  on  March  20.  The 
announcement,  the  first  in  the  column  and  in  large  type, 

The  following  new  works  will  shortly  be  published  by  Mr. 

Work  49 

Cast  on  de  Bhndeville;  a  Romance,  with  some  Poetical  Pieces. 
By  Anne  Radcliffc,  Author  of  The  Romance  of  the  Forest,  Mys- 
teries of  Udolpho,  Italian,  etc.  To  which  will  be  prefixed,  a 
Memoir  of  the  Author,  and  Extracts  from  her  Diary.  Published 
from  the  originals,  in  the  possession  of  William  Radcliffe,  Esq. 
4  vols.  post  8vo. 

The  same  announcement,  or  practically  the  same,  followed 
at  intervals  of  a  few  days,  ten  times  during  the  next  three 
months,  until  finally,  on  June  12,  1826,  the  actual  publication 
was  announced.  Before  this  final  announcement,  there  ap- 
peared on  June  6  an  advertisement  of  the  complete  works 
of  Mrs.  Radcliffe: 

Jdrs.  Radcliffe's  Works:— The  whole  of  the  Works  of  _ the 
above  celebrated  Authoress  can  be  had  complete  (embellished 
with  numerous  Engravings)  in  the  two  first  volumes  of  Lim- 
bird's  British  Novelist,  for  the  trifling  sum  of  Ten  Shillings  in 
boards.—Vol.  I  contains  The  Mysteries  of  Udolpho,  and  The 
Sicilian  Romance. — Vol.  II  contains  The  Romance  of  the  Forest, 
Italian,  and  The  Castles  of  Athlin  and  Dunbayne.—Vo\&.  Ill  and 
IV  are  nearly  ready  for  delivery,  price  53.  each. 
Printed  and  published  by  J.  Limbird,  143,  Strand,  London. 

That  news  of  the  posthumous  novel  had  spread  even  be- 
fore the  first  announcement  quoted  above,  and  that  it  had 
reached  the  literary  public  of  America,  as  well  as  that  of 
England,  is  shown  by  an  item  in  the  Museum  of  Foreign 
Literature  and  Science,  published  in  Philadelphia  and  New 
York1 : 

Mr.  Colburn  will  shortly  publish  a  Romance  by  Ann  Radcliffe, 
author  of  'The  Mysteries  of  Udolpho/  etc.  This  announcement 
will,  no  doubt,  excite  the  greatest  interest  among  all  classes  of 
the  'reading  public/  who  will  eagerly  welcome  a  new  and  genuine 
work  by  the  'Great  Enchantress/  whose  pen  has  apparently  been 
so  long  idle.  The  forthcoming  Romance  would  have  been 
published  some  years  ago,  had  not  the  Author's  nervous  tem- 
perament, arising  from  the  state  of  her  health  (which  declined 
soon  after  the  work  in  question  was  finished)  made  her  hesitate 

*8.  94.    January,  1826.  (N.  S.  I.) 

50  Ann  Radcliffe  in  Relation  to  Her  Time    • 

to  plunge  again  in  the  bustle  of  literary  competition ;  and  being: 
in  affluent  circumstances,  she  rould  afford  to  indulge  in  the 
leisure  and  privacy  she  so  mucl-  loved.  Since  the  death  of  this 
celebrated  lady,  which  took  place  in  1823,  Mr.  Radcliffe,  her 
husband,  has  yielded  to  the  solicitations  pressed  on  him,  and  has 
consented  that  her  last  Romance,  which  will  be  found  quite 
worthy  of  her  fame,  should  be  given  to  the  world. 

The  judgments  of  'the  critics  in  regard  to   Gaston  de 
Blondeville  show  an  amusing  and  bewildering  variety. 
The  Edinburgh  Magazine1  declares : 

Mrs.  Radcliffe  has  long  borne  undisputed,  and  almost  solitary 
sway  over  the  regions  of  romance;  and  the  book  we  shall  now 
refer  to  is  certainly  one  of  her  own  magical  writing.  If  external 
evidence  were  needed  to  establish  the  latter  position,  it  would 
find  sufficient  support  in  the  intrinsic  worth  of  the  composition. 

The  Monthly  Review,2  on  the  other  hand,  pronounces  a 
quite  contrary  opinion: 

We  must,  nevertheless,  take  the  liberty  to  say,  that  if  the 
authenticity  of  the  posthumous  \vritings  now  before  us  had  not 
been  placed  beyond  all  doubt,  we  should  have  hesitated  to  be- 
lieve that  they  had  proceeded  from  the  author  of  The  Mys- 
teries of  Udolpho.' 

The  London  Literary  Gasette*  says  that  the  romance  is, 
'to  our  taste,  much  finer  than  the  other  works  of  the  author/ 
and  adds: 

In  this  romance,  Mrs.  Radcliffe  has  abandoned  the  principle 
to  which  she  confined  herself  in  her  former  works,  and  has  taken 
advantage  of  ghostly  aid.  A  spectre  is  introduced  as  a  principal 
agent  in  the  awful  plot  of  Gaston  de  Blondeville;  and  we 
venture  to  anticipate  that  this  unearthly  being  will  be  pronounced 
one  of  the  most  solemn  creatures  in  our  language. 

Again,  the  opposite  opinion  is  presented  in  the  Edinburgh 

1 18.  703.    June,  1826. 

1 N.  S.  2.  28a    July,  1826. 

'May  27,  1826.  ,> 

4  July,  1834. 

Work  51 

If  anything1  .  .  .  could  reconcile  us  to  Mrs.  Ra  deli  fife's 
system  of  explaining  every  thing  by  natural  causes  in  her  former 
romances,  it  would  be  to  see  how  completely  in  this  she  has 
failed  in  the  management  of  a  true  spirit. 

For  the  most  part,  however,  the  reviewers  seem  to  have 
welcomed  the  publication  of  these  posthumous  works  as  an 
opportunity  for  a  resume  and  appreciation  of  Mrs.  Rad- 
cliffe's  work  in  general.  The  article  in  the  Edinburgh 
Review,  just  quoted,  was  a  review,  not  of  Gaston  de  Blonde- 
inlle  in  particular,  but  of  the  poems  which  accompanied  it, 
which  had  been  reprinted,  and  apparently  announced  as 
new  volumes,  in  1834.  The  ending  of  the  review  resembles 
many  of  the  others  in  the  almost  affectionate  admiration 
which  it  shows  for  Mrs.  Radcliffe,  even  while  recognizing 
some  of  her  imperfections: 

We  must  now  bid  adieu  to  these  poems.  They  are  little 
calculated  certainly  to  increase  the  reputation  of  Mrs.  Radcliffe ; 
1  and  perhaps  her  friends  would  have  acted  more  judiciously  if 
they  had  allowed  them  to  remain  in  that  obscurity  in  which  they 
were  left  by  their  amiable  authoress.  Yet  we  are  glad  of  the 
opportunity  they  have  afforded  us  of  expressing  our  admiration 
of  her  powers  as  a  writer  of  romance,  and  of  reviving  in  some 
measure  the  recollection  of  that  fascination  which  her  scenes  of 
beauty  and  terror  once  exercised  over  our  fancy.  That  a 
critical  perusal  of  them  at  the  present  moment,  with  the  cool  eye 
of  middle  age,  would  probably  point  out  to  us  many  incongrui- 
ties, and  many  weaknesses,  is  very  probable.  It  is  an  experiment 
which  we  should  take  care  not  to  hazard.  We  prefer  leaving 
them  as  they  float  at  present  in  our  memory,  here  and  there 
freshly  remembered  in  their  better  parts,  the  rest  fading  into 
distance  and  half  forgotten;  on  the  whole,  a  pleasing  pageant 
of  gloomy  castles  and  caves, — moon-illumined  streets  and  pal- 
aces,— dance  and  Provencal  song,  and  vintage  mirth, — aerial 
music  floating  over  fairy-haunted  forests, — or  choral  chant  of 
monk  or  nun,  borne  to  the  ear  over  the  still  waters  of  the 

Looking  over  the  reviews  of  Mrs.  Radcliffe's  work,  one 
finds  them,  on  the  whole,  distinctly  favorable.  Indeed,  most 

52  Ann  Radcliffe  in  Relation  to  Her  Time 

of  them  are  more  than  this ;  they  are  warmly  enthusiastic. 
Even  the  first  book,  weak  as  it  is  in  comparison  with  her 
later  efforts,  is  spoken  of  in  terms  that  would  not  entirely 
discourage  a  young  author.  A  Sicilian  Romance,  as  we 
have  seen^  received  a  considerable  degree  of  praise,  and 
from  the  time  of  the  publication  of  The  Romance  of  the 
Forest,  probably  no  writer  of  fiction  could  vie  with  her  in 
j)p4)ujajtiiyJ__The  reviews  of  her  posthumous  works  give 
more  general  comment  on  her  position  as  an  author  than  the 
reviews  of  individual  novels,  jjng1  speaVc  nf  h**r  as  'the, 
finest  writer  in  this  kind  of  fiction  that  ever  existed,'  and  as 
'confessedly  at  the  head  of  her  class.'  Another2  refers  to 
the  volumes  of  poetry  published  in  1834  as  'the  last  relic  of 
a  highly-gifted  and  amiable  mind,  which,  in  its  day,  exer- 
cised no  mean  influence  over  the  spirit  of  literature,  and  the 
charm  of  whose  productions  has  perhaps  been  acknowledged 
more  universally,  and  with  less  dispute,  than  that  of  any 
other  writer  of  fiction.'  The  same  writer  goes  on  to  say  that 
Mrs.  Radcliffe's  reputation  has  suffered  from  the  many  imi- 
tators who  tried  to  use  her  methods,  without  possessing  her 

But  Mrs.  Radcliffe  was  as  truly  an  inventor,  a  great  and 
original  writer  in  the  department  she  had  struck  out  for  her- 
self— whether  that  department  was  of  the  highest  kind  or  not — 
as  the  Richardsons,  Fieldings,  and  Smolletts,  whom  she  suc- 
ceeded and  for  a  time  threw  into  the  shade;  or  the  Ariosto  of 
the  North,  before  whom  her  own  star  has  paled  its  ineffectual 

When  we  consider  the  almost  unanimous  expressions  of 
admiration  which  these  reviews  contain,  the  suggestion  in 
some  of  the  obituary  notices  that  unfavorable  criticism 
caused  Mrs.  Radcliffe  to  give  up  her  writing  seems  hardly 
reasonable.  It  is  true  that  certain  of  the  reviews  contained 
qualifying  judgments — that  many  critics  objected  to  her 

1  London  Literary  Gazette,  May  27,  1826. 
1  Edinburgh  Review,  July,  1834. 

Work  53 

use  of  description,  or  detected  errors  in  her  local  color. 
But  the  praise  far  overbalanced  the  blame,  and  no  author 
of  sense  could  object  to  intelligent  and  reasonable  criticism. 
The  only  comment  which  might  have  seriously  hurt  the 
feelings  of  a  writer  sensitive  to  public  opinion  is  found  in  an 
article  on  Terrorist  Novel  Writing  in  the  Spirit  of  Public 
Journals  for  i^y/.1  This  is  in  the  form  of  a  letter,  ridi- 
culing the  novels  'in  which  it  has  been  the  fashion  to  make 
terror  the  order  of  the  day/  and  it  is  followed  by  a  note 
which  has  a  rather  sneering  tone : 

It  is  easy  to  see  that  the  satire  of  this  letter  is  particularly 
levelled  at  a  literary  lady  of  considerable  talent,  who  has  pre- 
sented the  world  with  three  novels,  in  which  she  has  found  out 
the  secret  of  making  us  'fall  in  love  with  what  we  fear  to  look 
on/  .  .  .  The  system  of  terror  which  she  has  adopted  is  not 
the  only  reproach  to  which  she  is  liable.  Besides  the  tedious 
monotony  of  her  descriptions,  she  affects  in  the  most  disgusting 
manner  a  knowledge  of  languages,  countries,  customs,  and  ob- 
jects of  art  of  which  she  is  lamentably  ignorant.  She  suspends 
tripods  from  the  ceiling  by  chains,  not  knowing  that  a  tripod 
is  a  utensil  standing  upon  three  feet— She  covers  the  kingdom 
of  Naples  with  India  figs  because  St.  Pierre  has  introduced  N 
those  tropical  plants  in  his  tales,  of  which  the  scene  is  laid  in 
India — and  she  makes  a  convent  of  monks  a  necessary  appendage 
to  a  monastery  of  nuns.  This  shows  how  well  a  lady  under- 
stands the  wants  of  her  sex.  Whenever  she  introduces  an 
Italian  word  it  is  sure  to  be  a  gross  violation  of  the  language. 
Instead  of  making  a  nobleman's  servant  call  him  Padrone,  or 
lllustrissimo,  she  makes  him  address  him  by  the  title  of  Maestro, 
which  is  Italian  for  a  teacher.  She  converts  the  singular  of 
Laszaroni  into  Lazzaro,  etc.  etc.  etc. 

This  lady's  husband  told  a  friend  that  he  was  going  to  Ger- 
many with  his  wife,  the  object  of  whose  journey  was  to  pick 

•  up  materials  for  a  novel.    I  think  in  that  case  answered  his 
friend,  that  you  had  better  let  her  go  alone  1 

It  would  seem,  however,  that,  if  there  were  enough  un- 
favorable criticisms  to  affect  Mrs.  Radcliffe  to  any  great 

*  i.  323. 

54  Ann  Radcliffe  in  Relation  to  Her  Time 

degree,  they  must  have  appeared,  not  in  magazines  of  the 
better  class,  but  in  more  ephemeral  periodicals,  not  accessible 
to  us  to-day. 

One  sure  t^cHrnnnyJO  popularity  is  irjTJtatjnn^flriH  of  that 

MrsTRadcUffe  had  her  full  share.  This  has  bserrTmlor- 
tunate  for  her  reputation,  for  not  enough  distinction  has 
been  madelfefweeti'the  original  and  the  very  inferior  copies. 
From  about  1795  on,  we  find  reviewed  a  constant  succession 
of  novels,  the  only  distinction  of  which  seems  to  be  a  more 
or  less  successful  imitation  of  Mrs.  Radcliffe's  style.  A' 
review  of  Austenburn  Castle,  in  I796,1  tells  us  the  plight  of 
the  reviewer: 

Since  Mrs.  Radcliffe's  justly  admired  and  successful  romances, 
the  press  has  teemed  with  stories  of  haunted  castles  and  vis- 
ionary terrors;  the  incidents  of  which  are  so  little  diversified, 
that  criticism  is  at  a  loss  to  vary  its  remarks. 

A  reference  to  the  number  of  imitations  occurs  in  a  review 
of  Valombrosa,  or  the  Venetian  Nun,  in  i8o52 : 

Amongst  the  numerous,  or,  to  speak  with  more  propriety, 
innumerable/imitations  of  'the  Mysteries  of  Udolpho,'  with  which 
the  press  has  groaned,  we  must  rank  the  present  production. 

As  late  as  1812,  when  we  should  imagine  Mrs.  Radcliffe's 
vogue  to  have  been  somewhat  past,  we  have  notice  of  an- 
other attempt  to  rival  her,  Rosalie,  or  the  Castle  of  Montala- 

One  thing  is  noticeable — that  the  reviewers  all  make  care- 
ful distinction  between  Mrs.  Radcliffe  and  her  imitators,  a 
distinction  which  later  critics  have  not  always  observed. 
The  same  attitude  is  taken  as  a  rule  by  her  contemporaries 
whenever  they  comment  upon  her.  They  seem  to  have 
realized  that  she  had  originated,  or  at  least  developed  to  a 
high  degree,  a  really  new  style  of  writing,  and  that  she  was 

1  Critical  Review,  N.  Ar.  16.  222. 
*  Critical  Review,  N.  Ar.  43. 329. 
'Monthly  Review  67.320. 

Work  55 

not  responsible  for  the  abuse  which  it  received  at  the  hands 
of  lesser  authors.  This  attitude  is  expressed  in  a  passage  in 
one  of  Miss  Sewafd's  letters,  August  3,  I7941 : 

I  read  not,  neither  doubtless  do  you,  the  Novel  trash  of  the 
day.  Hours  are  too  precious  for  such  frivolous  waste,  where 
the  mind  has  in  itself  any  valuable  resources ;  yet  are  there  a 
few  pens  which  possess  the  power  so  to  inspirit  those  fond 
fancies  of  the  brain,  as  to  render  them  gratifying  to  an  imagin- 
ation which  demands  more  to  please  it  than  amorous  story. 
Mrs.  Radcliffe's  pen  is  of  this  number.  Though  she  aims  not 
at  the  highly  important  morality  of  the  great  Richardson,  nor 
possesses  scarce  a  portion  of  his  ample,  his  matchless  ability,  in 
discriminating  characters, 

'  Yet  does  she  mount,  and  keep  her  distant  way 

Above  the  limits  of  the  vulgar  page.' 

A  book  entitled  Literary  Memoirs  of  Living  Authors  of 
Great  Britain,  published  in  1798,  speaks  of  Mrs.  Radcliffe  as 
'a  lady  of  great  distinction  in  the  literary  world  as  a  Novel- 
writer.  .  .  .  Her  powers  of  pleasing,  in  this  line  of 
composition,  are  very  singularly  great ;  and  the  happy  com- 
bination of  various  talents  which  her  pieces  display,  entitles 
their  author  to  rank  among  the  first  novel-writers  of  her 
age/  Two  French  biographical  works,  published  shortly 
after  her  death,  have  extended  notices  of  her: — the  Bio- 
graphie  Universelle?  and  the  Biographie  Nouvelle  des  Con- 
temp  orains*  ,' 

This  discussion  of  Mrs.  Radcliffe  as  estimated  by  her  con- 
temporaries has,  of  necessity,  presented  many  anonymous 
judgments,  for  the  in  magazines  of  the  time  were, 
for  the  most  part,  unsigned.  They  are  important,  however, 
since  the  leading  magazines  reflected  to  a  considerable  extent 
the  general  literary  opinion.  One  might  with  good  excuse 
include  here  the  opinions  'of  some  of  the  more  famous 

.  *  Letters 

'Vol.  17. 

56  Ann  Radcliffe  in  Relation  to  Her  Tims 

authors  who  were  practically  her  contemporaries — men  like 
Hazlitt  and  Leigh  Hunt,  Byron  and  Shelley.  But  their 
period  of  production  came  later  than  hers,  so  that  they  seem 
to  belong:  to  a  different  generation.  Moreover,  their  judg- 
ments of  her,  and  the  general  question  of  her  influence  upon 
them,  have  been  already  more  discussed  than  the  points 
which  I  am  intending  to  treat  here.  My  attempt  has  been 
to  show  how  Mrs.  Radcliffe's  books  were  received~6n  their 
appearance,  to  consider  her  as  an  active  writer,  rather  than 
to  estimate  her  influence  upon  the  literature  of  a  later  period. 
It  is  well  to  remember,  however,  that  not  only  those  of  her 
own  generation,  but  many  in  the  generation  succeeding, 
read  her  works  with  interest  and  admiration.  In  the  Ro- 
mantic movement  she  was  a  transitional  figure,  developing 
and  passinef-on-^to  the  later  men  tendencies  and  themes  with 

*"'    I.        ,      „         _      i.  I      '  "  '-         ,|-          , ,          |M 

which  the  earlier  ones  had  been  experimenting ;  and  it  was 
her  extreme  popularity,  as  shown  in  these  contemporary 
expressions,  which  enabled  her  to  pass  on  so  rnttefrT" 

Section  2.    Sources  of  the  Novels. 

The  first  two  of  Mrs.  Radcliffe's  novels  point  to  no  very 
definite  source.  They  show  in  general  more  influence  from 
Walpole  and  Clara  Reeve  than  the  later  books.  The 
Castles  of  Athlin  and  Dunbayne  resembles  The  Castle  of 
Otranto  in  having  for  one  of  its  principal  characters  a  noble- 
natured  young  man,  supposedly  a  peasant,  who  turns  out 
to  be  a  long-missing  heir,  and  who  finally  makes  a  happy 
marriage.  The  same  theme  was  used  in  The  Old  English 

A  Sicilian  Romance  uses  Walpole's  scheme  of  pretending 
to  find  his  story  in  an  old  manuscript.  The  story  itself, 
however,  does  not  show  much  resemblance  to  either  of  its 
predecessors,  unless  we  see  in  the  Marquis*  cruel  and  unjust 
treatment  of  his  wife  and  daughters  some  suggestion  of 
The  Castle  of  Otranto. 

Work  57 

~— — 

In  The  Romance  of  the  Forest  Mrs.  Radcliffe  seems  to 
declare  her  source  frankly : 

Whoever  has  read  Guyot  de  Pitaval,  the  most  faithful  of 
those  writers  who  record  the  proceedings  in  the  Parliamentary 
Courts  of  Paris,  during  the  seventeenth  century,  must  surely 
.remember  the  striking  story  of  Pierre  de  la  Motte,  and  the 
Marquis  Phillipe  de  Montalt;  let  all  such,  therefore,  be  in- 
formed, that  the  person  here  introduced  to  their  notice  was  that 
individual  Pierre  de  la  Motte.1 

A  search  through  de  Pitaval's  Causes  Celebres,  however, 
has  failed  to  reveal  any  suit  recorded  under  these  names. 
The  only  place,  apparently,  where  the  name  La  Motte  oc- 
curred, was  in  connection  with  an  entirely  different  suit. 
Whether  Mrs.  Radcliffe  took  some  one  of  the  stories,  and 
changed  the  names,  or  whether  she  merely  ascribed  her 
story  to  de  Pitaval,  to  have  a  plausible-sounding  source, 
seems  uncertain. 

Mrs.  Radcliffe  would  have  been  most  likely  to  know  de 
Pitaval,  perhaps,  in  a  series  of  stories  which  were  translated 
and  adapted  from  the  Causes  Celebres  by  Charlotte  Smith, 
in  1787,  under  the  title  The  Romance  of  Real  Life.  The 
probability  that  she  was  familiar  with  this  work  is  increased 
by  the  fact  that  she  and  Charlotte  Smith  both  have  the  same 
misspelling  of  de  Pitaval's  name,  writing  it  Guyot  instead 
of  Gayot.  One  of  these  stories  might  have  given  some 
suggestion  for  The  Romance  of  the  Forest.  This  is  the 
account  of  Mademoiselle  de  Choiseul.  In  this,  the  Duke  de 
la  Valliere  promised  his  sister  to  take  care  of  her  child: 

.  .  .  but  when  he  found  that,  by  suppressing  what  he  knew 
of  her  birth,  he  should  divide  considerable  property  as  heir  to 
that  sister,  he  scrupled  not  to  violate  every  promise  he  had  given 
her,  not  only  on  the  birth  of  her  child,  but  again  when  she  was 
dying;  and  now,  when  her  daughter  claimed  her  own  property, 
desired  to  have  authentic  proof  of  what  he  knew  better  than  any- 
one— proofs,  which  it  was  more  difficult  for  her  to  bring,  as  all 

1  Romance  of  the  Forest,  p.  2. 

5 8  Ann  Radcliffe  in  Relation  to  Her  Time 

the  family  papers  were  in  the  hands  of  the  very  person  who  de~ 
manded  them,  and  whose  interest  it  was  to  conceal  every  me- 
morial of  the  contested  fact.1 

This  is  not  unlike  the  situation  in  The  Romance  of  the 
Forest.  Here  the  Marquis  has  actually  had  his  brother  put 
to  death,  in  order  to  get  the  money  which  that  brother  had 
inherited  from  his  wife.  The  young  daughter  is  put  in  a 
convent,  and,  when  she  refuses  to  take  the  veil,  the  Marquis 
orders  her  death.  When,  later  on,  he  finds  that  she  has 
escaped  his  cruel  commands,  he  tells  La  Motte  to  kill  her. 
Again  his  tool  fails  to  obey.  At  the  end  of  the  story  the 
truth  is  revealed.  Adeline  is  to  appear  in  a  trial-scene 
under  very  similar  circumstances  to  those  in  The  Romance 
of  Real  Life,  when  the  trial  is  made  unnecessary  by  the 
suicide  of  the  Marquis. 

We  still  find  in  The  Romance  of  the  Forest  details  in- 
herited from  Walpole  and  Clara  Reeve.  One  of  the  most 
striking  resemblances  in  situation  is  Adeline's  dream  when 
she  has  been  reading  the  manuscript  she  finds  in  the  room 
net,  hers  in  the  old  abbey.2  It  is  very  similar  to  Edmund's 
dream  in  The  Old  English  Baron,  and  the  cause  is.  the  same. 
Adeline,  like  Edmund,  is  sleeping  near  the  unburied  bones 
of  her  father.  Incidentally  it  may  be  remarked  that  this  is 
one  touch  of  the  supernatural  which  Mrs.  Radcliffe  does  not 
explain  away. 

~~"ln  regard  to  The  Mysteries  of  Udolpho,  one  source  is 
mentioned  by  Green  in  his  Diary  of  a  Lover  of  Literature9: 

Read  the  first  volume  of  Mrs.  Piozzi's  Travels  in  Italy.  Tol- 
erably amusing,  but  for  a  pert  flippancy,  and  ostentation  of 
learning.  Mrs.  Radcliffe  has  taken  from  this  work  her  vivid 
description  of  Venice  and  of  the  Brenta,  but  oh !  how  improved 
in  the  transcript. 

•   '*  Romance  of  Real  Life  3.  136. 
'  Nov.  25,  1800.    Quoted  in  the  Gentleman's  Magazine,  N.  S.  I.  10. 

Work  59 

This  suggestion  is  interesting,  because  it  shows  us  some- 
thing of  Mrs.  Radcliffe's  methods  of  work.  She  evidently 
had  more  groundwork  of  fact  in  her  descriptions  than  she 
was  sometimes  given  credit  for;  she  took  the  authentic 
record  of  actual  travel,  and  let  her  imagination  play  about 
it.  A  comparison  of  a  few  passages  from  The  Mysteries  of 
Udolpho  with  corresponding  passages  from  Mrs.  Piozzi's 
Journey  will  show  that  one  was  undoubtedly  the  source  of 
the  other ;  in  fact,  at  times  the  resemblance  is  so  close  that 
we  wonder  that  Mrs.  Piozzi  did  not  claim  credit  as  a 

Take  first  the  description  of  the  Brenta  itself.  Mrs. 
Piozzi's  version1 : 

It  was  on  the  twenty-first  of  May  then  that  we  returned  up 
the  Brenta  in  a  barge  to  Padua,  stopping  from  time  to  time  to 
give  refreshment  to  our  conductors  and  their  horse,  which 
draws  on  the  side,  as  one  sees  them  at  Richmond;  where  the 
banks  are  scarcely  more  beautifully  adorned  by  art,  than  here  by 
nature;  though  the  Brenta  is  a  much  narrower  river  than  the 
Thames  at  Richmond,  and  its  villas,  so  justly  celebrated,  far 
less  frequent.  The  sublimity  of  their  architecture  however, 
the  magnificence  of  their  orangeries,  the  happy  construction  of 
the  cool  arcades,  and  general  air  of  festivity  which  breathes 
upon  the  banks  of  this  truly  wizard  stream,  planted  with  dancing, 
not  weeping  willows,  to  which  on  a  bright  evening  the  lads  and 
lasses  run  for  shelter  from  the  sun  beams,  Et  fugit  ad  salices,  et 
se  cupit  ante  videri ;  are  I  suppose,  peculiar  to  itself. 

Mrs.  Radcliffe's2: 

The  noble  Brenta,  pouring  its  broad  waves  into  the  sea,  now 
appeared,  and,  when  she  reached  its  mouth,  the  barge  stopped, 
that  the  horses  might  be  fastened  which  were  to  tow  it  up  the 
stream.  This  done,  Emily  gave  a  last  look  to  the  Adriatic,  and 
to  the  dim  sail, 

That  from  the  sky-mix'd  wave 

Dawns  on  the  sight, 

*  Observations  and  Reflections  made  in  the  Course  of  a  Journey 
through  France,  Italy  and  Germany,  p.  221. 
1  Mysteries  of  Udolpho  2.  121. 

60  Ann  Radcliffe  in  Relation  to  Her  Time 

and  the  barge  slowly  glided  between  the  green  and  luxuriant 
slopes  of  the  river.  The  grandeur  of  the  Palladian  villas,  that 
adorn  these  shores,  was  considerably  heightened  by  the  setting 
*  rays,  which  threw  strong  contrasts  of  light  and  shade  upon  the 
porticos  and  long  arcades,  and  beamed  a  mellow  lustre  upon  the 
orangeries  and  tall  groves  of  pine  and  cypress,  that  overhung 
the  buildings.  The  scent  of  oranges,  of  flowering  myrtles,  and 
other  odoriferous  plants  was  diffused  upon  the  air,  and  often, 
from  these  embowered  retreats,  a  strain  of  music  stole  on  the 
calm,  and  'softened  into  silence.' 

Mrs.  Radcliffe  here  makes  an  addition  very  characteristic 
of  her — the  setting  sun.  She  is  rarely  content  to  give  us 
merely  the  features  of  the  landscape;  she  shows  them  as 
affected  by  atmospheric  conditions.  Also  her  description 
becomes  more  vivid  than  Mrs.  Piozzi's  from  her  inclusion 
of  odors  and  sounds,  as  well  as  those  things  which  appeal  to 
the  sense  of  sight.  Both  give  much  the  same  impression  of 
the  ladies  of  Venice.  • 

Mrs.  Piozzi1 : 

A  Venetian  lady  has  in  particular  so  sweet  a  manner  naturally 
that  she  really  charms  without  any  settled  intent  to  do  so,  merely 
from  that  irresistible  good-humor  and  mellifluous  tone  of  voice 
which  seize  the  soul,  and  detain  it  in  despite  of  Juno-like 
majesty,  or  Minerva-like  wit. 

Mrs.  Radcliffe2 : 

In  the  evening,  Madame  Montoni  .  .  .  received  visits 
from  some  Venetian  ladies,  with  whose  sweet  manners  Emily 
was  particularly  charmed.  They  had  an  air  of  ease  and  kindness 
towards  the  strangers,  as  if  they  had  been  their  familiar  friends 
for  years;  and  their  conversation  was  by  turns  tender,  senti- 
mental, and  gay. 

Another  comparison  will  show  that  one  of  Mrs.  Rad- 
cliffe's  most  famous  passages,3  although  she — once  more 

1  Op.  cit.t  p.  183. 

*  Op.  cit.,  p.  67. 

'  The  one  which  Byron  recalls  in  Childe  Harold,  Canto  4,  stanza  I. 

Work  61 

aided  by  the  setting  sun — has  added  much,  is  not  entirely 
her  own  inspiration. 

Mrs.  Piozzi1 : 

St.  Mark's  place,  after  all  I  had  read  and  all  I  had  heard  of 
it,  exceeded  expectation;  such  a  cluster  of  excellence, 'such  a 
constellation  of  artificial  beauties,  my  mind  had  never  ventured 
to  excite  the  idea  of  within  herself;  though  assisted  with  all 
the  powers  of  doing  so  which  painters  can  bestow,  and  with  all 
the  advantages  derived  from  verbal  and  written  description. 
...  .  The  general  effect  produced  by  such  architecture,  such 
painting,  such  pillars;  illuminated  as  I  saw  them  last  night  by 
the  moon  at  full,  rising  out  of  the  sea,  produced  an  effect  like 
enchantment.  .  .  .  From  the  top  [of  the  tower  in  St  Mark's 
Place]  is  presented  to  one's  sight  the  most  striking  of  all  pros- 
pects, water  bounded  by  land — not  land  by  water.  The  curious 
and  elegant  islets  upon  which,  and  into  which,  the  piles  of  Venice 
are  driven,  exhibiting  clusters  of  houses,  churches,  palaces,  every 
thing — started  up  in  the  midst  of  the  sea,  so  as  to  excite  amaze- 

Mrs.  Radcliffe2 : 

Nothing  cculd  exceed  Emily's  admiration,  on  her  first  view  of 
Venice,  with  its  islets,  palaces,  and  towers  rising  out  of  the  sea, 
whose  clear  surface  reflected  the  tremulous  picture  in  all  its 
colours.  The  sun,  sinking  in  the  west,  tinted  the  waves  and  the 
lofty  mountains  of  Friuli,  which  skirts  the  northern  shores  of 
the  Adriatic,  with  a  saffron  glow,  while  on  the  marble  porticos 
and  colonnades  of  St.  Mark  were  thrown  the  rich  lights  and 
shades  of  evening.  As  they  glided  on,  the  grander  features  of 
this  city  appeared  more  distinctly ;  its  terraces,  crowned  with  airy 
yet  majestic  fabrics,  touched,  as  they  now  were,  with  the 
splendour  of  the  setting  sun,  appeared  as  if  they  had  been 
called  up  from  the  ocean  by  the  wand  of  an  enchanter,  rather 
than  reared  by  mortal  hands. 

Several  other  passages  might  be  quoted,  but  these  are 
probably  enough  to  show  Mrs.  Radcliffe's  debt  to  Mrs. 

1  Observations,  etc.,  p.  151. 
'  Mysteries  of  Udolpho  2.  35. 


Ann  Rcdcliffe  in  Relation  to  Her  Time 

Another  possible  source  for  the  trip  on  the  Brenta  may 
be  found  in  Schiller's  Ghostseer1  : 

Our  little  voyage  was  exceedingly  delightful.  A  picturesque 
country,  which  at  every  winding  of  the  river  seem>'<l  to  increase 
in  richness.  and  beauty;  the  serenity  of  the  sky,  which  formed  a 
May  day  in  the  middle  of  February;  the  charming  gardens  and 
elegant  country-seats  which  adorned  the  banks  of  the  Brenta; 
the  majestic  city  of  Venice  behind  us,  with  its  lofty  spires,  and 
a  forest  of  masts,  rising  as  it  were  out  of  the  waves;  all  this 
afforded  us  one  of  the  most  splendid  prospects  in  the  world. 

One  difficulty  here,  however,  is  that  the  English  trans- 
lation of  Dcr  Geisterscher  did  not  appear  until  1795,  too 
late  to  have  had  any  influence  upon  The  Mysteries  of  Udol- 
pho.  Unless  we  are  to  think  that  Mrs.  Radcliffe  was  famil- 
iar with  the  original,  we  must  consider  the  resemblance  in 
the  passages  as  merely  accidental.  We  have  perhaps  no 
positive  reason  fqr  concluding  that  she  did  not  know  the 
original.  Buyers,  in  an  article  on  The  Influence  of  Schil- 
ler's Drama  and  Fiction  upon  English  Literature*  says  : 

Mrs.  Radcliffe,  apparently,  knew  no  German,  nor  are  there 
any  references  to  German  literature  in  her  account  of  a  Journey 
through  Holland  and  the  western  frontier  of  Germany, 

This  is,  however,  rather  negative  proof.  Moreover, 
Buyers  seems  to  forget  his  own  conclusion  when  to  his 
statement,  'Schedoni  alone  of  Mrs.  RadclinVs  characters 
seems  to  owe  something  to  the  influence  of  Schiller/  he 
adds  this  note  : 

Since  this  was  written,  it  has  struck  me  that  very  possibly 
Montoni  may  be  a  fearsome  blend  of  the  Armenian  and  the 
brothers  Moor. 

If  The  Ghostseer  could  influence  the  character  of  Mon- 
toni, Mrs.  RadclifTe  must  certainly  have  had  some  knowl- 
edge of  the  book  prior  to  the  writing  of  The  Mysteries  of 

*En%itick*  Studien  48.  350. 


Buyers  seems  justified  in  pointing  out  Mrs.  Raddiffe's 
indebtedness  to  The  Ghostseer  in  The  Italian,  although  he  is 
perhaps  not  quite  accurate  in  saying  that  Schiller's  influence 
is  found  only  hi  the  character  of  Schedoni.  It  is  not  Sche- 
doni  who  speaks  in  the  voice  of  warning  and  prophecy ;  it  is 
the  mysterious  monk  of  Paluzzi,  Schedoni's  enemy. 

But,  as  he  points  out,  there  are  several  scenes  which  show 
striking  similarity.  One  which  he  mentions  takes  place 
between  Vivaldi  and  the  monk,  when  Vivaldi  is  on  his  way 
to  see  Ellena : 

'You  are  too  late/  said  a  sudden  voice  beside  Vivaldi,  who 
instantly  re<  ognized  the  thrilling  accents  of  the  monk.  'It  is 
past  midnight ;  she  departed  an  hour  ago.  Look  to  your  steps !' 

This  certainly  does  suggest  the  words  of  the  Armenian. 
in  The  Ghostseer.  'Neun  Uhr.'  'Wiinschen  sie  sich  Gluck, 
prinz.  Um  neun  Uhr  ist  er  gestorben.' 

Vivaldi's  comment  is : 

I  am  warned  of  evils  that  await  me,  of  events  that  are  regu- 
larly fulfilled;  the  being  who  warns  me  crosses  my  path  per- 
petually, yet,  with  the  cunning  of  a  demon,  as  constantly  eludes 
my  grasp  and  baffles  my  pursuit. 

This  is  very  much  like  the  reflection  in  The  Ghostseer1 : 

A  superior  power  attends  me.  Omniscience  surrounds  me. 
An  invisible  Being  whom  I  cannot  escape,  watches  over  my  steps. 

Mrs.  Radcliffe  also  may  have  been  indebted  to  The  Ghost- 
seer for  Schedoni's  crime — the  murder  of  his  brother  in 
order  to  marry  the  brother's  wife. 

One  other  resemblance  may  be  pointed  out  between  the 
two  works.  The  Sicilian's  explanation  of  his  tricks,  after 
he  has  puzzled  his  audience  with  them,  may  suggest  Mrs. 
Radcliffe's  method  of  explaining  the  apparently  supernat- 
ural. We  could  hardly  give  Schiller  the  credit  of  originat- 
ing her  method,  however,  since  she  used  it  to  some  extent 
from  the  first. 

1  P.  386. 

64  Ann  Radcliffe  in  Relation  to  Her  Time 

Another- question  of  comparison  occurs  in  the  consider- 
ation of  The  Italian.  This  is  the  question  of  its  connection 
with  The  Monk  of  Matthew  Gregory  Lewis. 

Lewis  made  the  statement  in  a  letter  to  his  mother1  that 
it  was  the  reading  of  The  Mysteries  of  Udolpho,  during  his 
trip  abroad,  which  gave,,  him  the  inspiration  to  go  on  with 
the  romance  which  he  had  begun.  It  seems  possible  that 
Lewis'  novel  had  some  reciprocal  influence  upon  Mrs.  Rad- 
cliffe's  work,  at  least  to  the  extent  of  leading  her  to  select  a 
monk  as  her  central  figure.  She  had,  it  is  true,  made  con- 
siderable use  of  religious  machinery  in  her  earlier  books. 
In  A  Sicilian  Romance  Julia  takes  refuge  in  a  convent,  and 
so  does  Emily  in  The  Mysteries  of  Udolpho.  Mrs.  Rad- 
cliffe's  attitude  toward  monastic  life  is  interestingT  as  ail" 
artist  she  seems  to  have  been  fascinated  by  it ;  as  a  human 
being,  she  was  repelled. 

This  mixture  of  feeling  comes  out  in  her  comment  on 
some  of  the  English  Lake  scenery,  where  she  is  remarking 
on  its  resemblance  to  the  Rhine : 

(Once  too,  there  were  other  points  of  resemblance,  in  the  ruins 
of  monasteries  and  convents,  which,  though  reason  rejoices  that 
they  no  longer  exist,  the  eye  may  be  allowed  to  regret.* 

In  The  Italian,  however,  the  dominating  power  is  the 
Church;  and  the  figure  of  Schedoni — sinister,  mysterious, 
and  apparently  austere,  but  inwardly  depraved — is  not  unlike 
Lewis'  conception  of  his  Monk.  In  part  this  resemblance 
may  be  explained  by  the  theory  that  both  have  a  common 
source.  A  review  of  The  Monk3  suggests  that  the  character 
of  the  wandering  Jew,  in  Lewis'  book,  is  'copied  as  to  its 
more  prominent  features  from  Schiller's  incomprehensible 
Armenian/  The  Armenian  may  also  in  some  details  have 
influenced  Lewis'  picture  of  his  monk,  and  Mrs.  Radcliffe's 

1  Life  and  Correspondence  of  M.  G.  Lewis  I.  123. 

*  Journey  2.  250. 

*  Critical  Review,  N.  Ar.  191  104. 

Work  65 

inspiration  for  Schedoni  may  have  come  directly  from  The 
Ghostseer,  and  not  from  Lewis  at  all.  It  would  not  seem 
unlikely,  however,  that,  finding  him  successful  with  this 
theme,  she  resolved  to  try  her  hand  at  it.  Lewis'  book 
was  probably  the  only  one  of  the  time  which  rivaled  Mrs. 
Radcliffe's  works  in  popularity.  It  made  a  considerable 
stir,  in  spite  of  the  widespread  condemnation  of  its  morals. 
She  might  have  thought  it  worth  while  to  attempt  a  study 
in  the  same  field,  which  should,  however,  not  be  open  to  the 
same  objections  on  the  score  of  morality. 

One  passage  in  the  Journey  through  Holland1  seems  to 
point  toward  The  Italian.  It  suggests  that  Mrs.  Radcliffe 
was  not  wholly  indebted  to  other  writers,  but  that  her  own 
impressions  helped  to  shape  the  figure  of  Schedoni : 

Here  two  Capuchins,  belonging  probably  to  the  convent  above, 
as  they  walked  along  the  shore,  beneath  the  dark  cliffs  of  Bop- 
part,  wrapt  in  the  long  black  drapery  of  their  order,  and  their 
heads  shrowded  in  cowls,  that  half  concealed  their  faces,  were 
interesting  figures  in  a  picture,  always  gloomily  sublime. 

This  recalls  the  scene  in  which  Ellena,  trying  to  escape 
from  the  house  where  she  has  been  confined,  meets  the 
gloomy  form  of  the  monk  on  the  sea-shore,  and  is  followed 
by  him  until  she  is  forced  to  return. 

Mrs.  Radcliffe's  travels  came  too  late  to  influence  her 
earlier  books.  •  The  last,  Cast  on  de  Blondeville,  seems  to 
owe  its  inspiration  almost  entirely  to  one  of  her  expeditions, 
her  visit  to  Kenilworth  in  1802.  Several  passages  occur  in 
her  account  of  the  trip  which  seem  to  contain  suggestions 
of  the  story  which  she  developed.  One  is  in  her  description 
of  Warwick  Castle2:  .' 

But  what  struck  me  most  was  near  the  end  of  the  gallery 
(when  it  makes  a  sudden  turn  into  the  tower  that  terminates 
the  castle),  where  appeared  before  me  a  broad,  yet  dark  stair- 

X2.  64.     . 

"  Memoir,  p.  59. 

66  Ann  Radcliffe  in  Relation  to  Her  Time 

case  of  oak,  and  at  the  foot  of  it  as  if  guarding  the  passage,  a 
large  figufe  in  complete  armour,  the  beaver  down,  and  a  sword 
in  its  hand  1  The  general  twilight,  with  the  last  western  gleam 
breaking  through  the  painted  wirdow  at  the  foot  of  the  stair- 
case, and  touching  the  bronze,  gave  full  effect  to  this  scene,  and 
heightened  the  obscurity  of  the  stairs,  in  perspective. 

This  figure,  as  she  suddenly  caught  sight  of  it,  probably 
had  a  ghostly  effect,  and  might  have  suggested  to  her  the 
spectre,  dressed  in  the  armor  of  a  knight,  which  plays  such  a 
part  in  Gasion  de  Blondeville.  Her  interest  in  Kenilworth 
led  her  to  study  its  past  history  with  regrettable  industry. 
Gaston  de  Blondeville  is  the  one  book  in  which  she  made  a 
conscientious  attempt  to  reproduce  the  life  of  the  past,  and 
the  result  is  a  wearisome  minuteness  of  detail. 

One  attempt  to  connect  her  literary  work  with  her  travels 
seems  to  take  no  account  of  times  and  seasons.  Miss 
Seward,  in  a  letter  written  February  4,  1796,*  says: 

When  speaking  of  Mrs.  Radcliffe's  Tour,  I  forgot  to  observe 
the  probability  that  the  impressions  left  on  the  author's  imagin- 
ation, by  the  local  vestiges  at  Hardwicke  of  the  unfortunate 
Mary  Stewart ; — the  bed  and  chairs,  worked  by  her  own  fingers ; 
— the  little  confessional,  and  prayer-book,  all  preserved  exactly 
as  she  left  them;— that  these  objects  suggested  to  Mrs.  R. 
the  idea  of  the  marchioness's  apartment  in  the  Mysteries  of 
Udolpho.  I  thought  that  scene  much  the  finest  and  best 
imagined  part  of  the  novel. 

But,  as  has  been  said  before,  Mrs.  Radcliffe  made  her 
tour  of  the  Lakes  in  the  summer  of  1794,  and  The  Mysteries 
of  Udolpho  had  already  been  published  in  the  spring  of 
1794.  The  sight  of  the  relics  of  Mary  Queen  of  Scots 
could  hardly  have  suggested  the  Marchioness*  apartment, 
though  the  memory  of  her  own  imaginative  conception 
might  have  increased  her  interest  in  this  other  deserted 

1  Letters  4.  151. 

Work  67 

Two  general  sources  to  which  Mrs.  Radcliffe  is  indebted 
may  be  mentioned  briefly,  though  it  has  been  my  intention 
to  confine  the  discussion  to  the  more  definite  sources.  One 
is  the  German  literature  which  was  becoming  popular  in 
England  about  the  time  she  began  writing ;  the  other  is  the 

Mrs.  Radcliffe's  obligation  to  The  Ghostseer  has  been 
mentioned.  We  know  that  she  greatly  admired  The  Rob- 
bers. Lord  Woodhouselee's  English  translation  of  the 
latter  appeared  in  1792,  and  she  was  probably  familiar  with 
it  before  writing  The  Mysteries  of  Udolpho.  Traces  of  its 
influence  can  be  f,  such  as  Montoni 
and  Schedoni,  who  are  in  a  sense  outlaws;  in  her  tendency 
toward  strained  aiid  extravagant  situations ;  and  in  her  sen- 
timentality. It  must  be  said,  however,  that  Mrs.  Radcliffe 
never  showed  the  confused  sense  of  moral  responsibility 
which  characterized  the  German  school. 

(Jhe  Elizabethan  influence  is.  even  stronger.  Not  only 
do  we  find  in  the  informal  notes  of  Mrs.  Radcliffe's  journals 
references  to  Shakespeare  which  show  an  intimate  knowl- 
edge of  his  plays,  but  in  the  novels  scene  after  scene  is* 
found  which  is  evidently  of  Shakespearian  inspiration.  Sev- 
eral situations  in  The  Mysteries  of  Udolpho  recall  Macbeth. 
Among  these  are  the  half-crazed  ravings  of  the  dying  nun1; 
the  rising  from  the  table  m  confusion,  when  Montoni V 
story  is  interrupted  by  the  mysterious  voice ;  and  the  sound- 
ing of  the  portal-bell  as  Emily  enters  the  castle.  Another 
strong  resemblance  to  Macbeth  is  found  in  The  Italian,  when 
Schedoni  and  the  assassin  Spalatro  are  disputing  as  to  who 
shall  murder  Ellena,  and  the  Confessor  ends  the  matter 
with  the  words,  'Give  me  the  dagger,  then.'  The  influence 
of  Hamlet  seems  discernible  in  the  whole  circumstance  of 
the  mysterious  figure  which  is  seen  on  the  terrace  outside 
of  Emily's  window.2  The  whole  of  Gaston  de  Blondeville 

1  Mysteries  of  Udolpho  4.  362. 
1  Ibid.  3.  73-4- 


Ann  Radcliffe  in  Relation  to  Her  Time 

is  built  on  the  theme  of  Hamlet,  and  in  the  Introduction  we 
have  a  direct  reference  to  it  in  the  remark  that  Warwick 
Castle  has  towers  'that  would  do  honour  to  Hamlet/ 

Without  going  further  into  the  consideration  of  parallel 
situations  and  parallel  themes,  one  may  say  that  Mrs.  Rad- 
cliffe's  work  shows  plainly  her  admiration  for  Shakespeare 
and  her  familiarity  with  him,  and  also  that  in  tendency  and 
theme  she  suggests  not  only  Shakespeare  but  the  later  Eliz- 
abethans, with  their  inclination  toward  the  sensational  and 
the  gruesome.  The  fact  that,  just  before  Mrs.  Radcliffe 
began  writing,  there  had  been  a  considerable  revival  of  in- 
terest in  Elizabethan  plays,  both  on  the  stage  and  in  publi- 
cation, makes  this  influence  seem  a  very  natural  one.1 

Section  J.     Translations  and  Dramatic  Versions. 
In  the  account  given  of  Mrs.  Radcliffe  in  the  Biographic 
Nouvelle  des  Contcmporains  we  have  this  statement : 

Les  Romans  d'Anne  Radcliffe  ont  etc  traduit  dans  presque 
toutes  les  langues  de  1'Europe. 

A  list  of  French  translations  follows : 

Les  Chateaux  de  Dumblaine  et  d'Athlin,  1819. 
La  Foret.  ou  I'Abbaye  de  Saint-Clair,  1798. 
Julia,  ou  les  Souterrains  du  Chateau  de  Mazzini,  1801. 
Les  Mysteres  d'  Udolphe  (ce  roman,  souvent  reimprimS,  a  6t£ 
traduit  en  franc.ais,  4  vol.  in-  12,  1794). 

1  Professor  Thorndike,  in  chap.  IX  of  his  book  on  Tragedy,  gives  a 
list  of  thirteen  old  plays  revived  in  the  decade  1778-1788.  An- 
other play  which  he  does  not  mention  is  Ardeti  of  Feversham, 
which  received  its  first  performance  in  1790.  Between  the  years 
1708  and  1765,  seven  editions  of  Shakespeare's  works  were  published. 
Editions  of  Massinger  were  brought  out  in  1759;  1761,  and  1779. 
In  1744,  Dodsley  published  twelve  volumes-  of  Old  Plays,  and  these 
were  reprinted,  with  some  changes,  by  Isaac  Reed  in  1780.  In 
1773  another  collection  was  published  by  Hawkins.  An  edition  of 
Beaumont  and  Fletcher's  plays  was  brought  out  in  1778.  We  also 
find  evidence  of  the  printing  of  individual  plays:  The  Witch,  by 
Middleton,  was  first  published  in  1778,  and  The  Atheist's  Tragedy  of 
Tourneur  was  reprinted  in  1792. 

Work  69 

Voyage  fait  dans  Vet6  de  1794  en  Holland  e  et  sur  la  frontifrt 
d'Allemagne,  avec  des  observations  faites  dans  une  tournee  pres 
des  lacs  de  Lancashire,  Westmoreland,  et  Cumberland,  1795. 
Second  edition,  1709.  Translated  by  Cantwel. 

L'ltalien,  ou  le  Confessional  des  Penitens  noirs,  translated  by 
the  Abbe  Morellet.  Several  editions,  1795-1819. 

•Eleonore  de  Rosalba,  another  translation  of  The  Italian,  by 
Mary  Guy  Allard. 

The  Catalogue  of  the  British  Museum  has  the  following 
list,  varying  somewhat  from  the  one  just  given: 

Les  Chateaux  d'Athlin  et  de  Dunbayne.  Roman  traduit  de 
1'anglais  .  .  .  par  1'auteur  des  Memoires  de  Cromwell  etc. 
2  torn.  Paris,  1819. 

Cast  on  de  Blondeville  .  .  .  Roman  .  .  .  traduit  de 
1'anglais  par  le  traducteur  des  romans  de  Sir  W.  Scott  [A.  J.  B. 
Defauconpret].  3  torn.  Paris,  1826. 

Les  Mysteres  d'Udolphe  .  .  .  Traduit  de  1'anglais  sur  la 
troisieme  edition,  par  V.  de  Chastenay.  6  torn.  Paris,  1808. 

French  imitations  of  Mrs.  Radcliffe's  works  are  also 
given  here : 

Barbarinski,  ou  les  Brigands  du  chateau  de  Wissegrade.  Imite 
de  1'anglais  d'Anne  Radcliffe.  2  torn.  Paris,  1818,  par  Madame 
la  Comtesse  de  Nardouet. 

Le  Panache  rouge,  c-u  le  Spectre  de  Feu,  Smite"  de  1'anglais 
d'Anne  Radcliff,  par  Madame  la  Comtesse  de  Nardouet  2  torn. 
Paris,  1824. 

Several  Italian  versions  are  also  listed,  and  it  is  interesting 
to  note  that  these  are  all  late  editions : 

GK  Assassini  di  Ercolano.  (Romanzo  .  .  .  traduzione  del 
Francese  [i.  e.  a  French  version  of  Mrs.  Radcliffe's  "Romance 
of 'the  Forest."].  Edizione  ricorretta  e  splendidamente  illustrata. 
Milano,  1871. 

/  Sotteranei  di  Maszini  .  .  .  [An  Italian  Version  of  the 
"Sicilian  Romance."]  Con  illustrazioni.  Milano,  1883. 

Giulia ;  o,  i  Sotteranei  del  Castello  di  Mazzini,  etc.  [A  version 
of  "A  Sicilian  Romance."]  Milano,  1889. 

The  Yale  Library  possesses  a  copy  of  a  Spanish  version 
of  A  Sicilian  Romance,  entitled  Julia  o  Los  Subterraneos  del 
Castillo  de  Mazzini. 

70  Ann  Radcliffe  in  Relation  to  Her  Time 

Novela  escrita  en  ingles  par  Mail  de  Radcliff.  Traduicida 
del  frances  al  castellano.  Par  I.  M.  P.  Valencia,  1819. 

Mobius,  in  his  dissertation  on  The  Gothic  Romance,  gives 
a  list  of  German  translations  : 

Die  Nachtliche  Erscheinung  im  Schlosse  Mazzini,  [A  Sicilian 
Romance.]  Hannover,  1792.  Translated  by  D.  M.  Liebeskind. 

Adeline  oder  das  Abenteuer  im  Walde.  [Romance  of  the 
Forest.]  Leipzig,  Bohme,  1793.  D.  M.  Liebeskind. 

Udolphos  Gehtimnisse.  Riga,  Hartknoch,  1795.  D.  M. 

Die  Italienerin,  oder  der  Beichtstuhl  der  Schwarzen  Biissenden. 
Konigsberg,  Nicolovius,  1797.  D.  M.  Liebeskind. 

Ellena,  die  Jtalienerin,  oder  die  Warnungen  in  den  Ruinen  von 
Paluzzi,  1801. 

The  German  translators  of  The  Italian,  it  appears,  did 
not  realize  that  Schedoni  was  meant  to  be  the  dominant 
figure  in  the  book,  since  in  translating  they  made  the  word 
feminine,  and  so  threw  the  emphasis  upon  Ellena  and  her 
sufferings.  The  mistake  is  a  fairly  good  comment,  how- 
ever, on  the  unsatisfactory  nature  of  the  title.  There  was 
no  particular  point  in  giving  to  one  figure  the  title  of  The 
Italian,  when  all  the  personages  of  the  story  were  supposed 
to  be  of  that  nationality, 

doulrtmany  other  translations  exist  which  do  not 

of  which  we  have 

record  give  testimony  to  the  popularity  of  Mrs?a7!cliffe  in 
othejr.  cpunfrles  than  her  ownr 

Besides  the  FFelicTrT6niances"%ritten  in  imitation  of  her, 
there  appears  in  the  British  Museum  Catalogue  one  dramatic 

Le  Chateau  des  Apennins  ou  le  Fantome  Vivant,  drame  en 
cinq  actes,  en  prose.  I  mite  du  roman  Anglais,  les  Mysteres 
d'Udolphe  [of  Anne  Radcliffe,  by  R.  C.  Guilbert  de  Pixere- 
court]  Paris,  1799. 

English  dramatists  did  notjieglectjthe  opportimjty_  which 
Mrs7T?adcin??s~^Yorks  gave  for  stage-thrills.  Hfir_sl0ries_ 

Work  71 

were  quite  in  accord  with  the  theatrical  fashions  of  the  day,  ) 
especially  with  the  German  influence,  which,  beginning  with  j 
The  Robbers,  culminated  in  the  'Kotzebue-mania.'  They  \ 
offered  sentiment,  as  well  as  spectacular  scenes,  and  her  \ 
use  of  suspense  made  her  books  particularly  suitable  for 

A  Sicilian  Romance  was  dramatized  by  Henry  Siddons, 
son  of  the  great  actress,  and  was  first  performed  at  Covent 
Garden,  May  28,  1794.  The  consensus  of  opinion  seems 
to  have  been  that  the  play  was  decidedly  inferior  to  the 
novel.  Genest  says  of  }t: 

This  Op.  in  3  short  acts  was  written  by  Henry  Siddons. 
.  .  .  It  is  founded  on  Mrs.  Radcliffe's  Romance  of  the  same 
name,  .  .  .  The  Romance  is  interesting,  .  .  .  but  H. 
Siddons  has  dramatized  it  most  vilely.* 

Comments  upon  the  play,  not  particularly  enthusiastic, 
appear  in  the  European  Magazine*  and  the  Critical  Review.* 

Not  much  more  praise  was  given  to  the  dramatization  of 
The  Romance  of  the  Forest,  by  James  Boaden.  This  play, 
under  the  title  of  Fontainville  Forest,  was  first  acted  at 
Covent  Garden,  March  25,  1794.  Genest's  comment  is: 

This  is  a  moderate  play  by  Boaden.  .  .  .  The  plot  is  pro- 
fessedly borrowed  from  the  Romance  of  the  Forest  ... 
The  last  scene  of  the  3'd  act  is  rendered  contemptible  by  the  in- 
troduction of  a  Phantom. 

A  later  entry,  Jan.  8,  1796,  mentions  the  performance  of  the 
play,  'compressed  into  4  acts  by  the  author.'  Reviews  of  the 
play  appear  in  the  European  Magazine*  in  the  Critical 
Review?  in  the  English  Review?  and  in  the  British  Critic."1 

1  History  of  the  English  Stage.    C.  G.    May  28,  1794. 


'  N.  Ar.  13.  338.    March,  1795. 

4  25.  308. 

*N.  Ar.  ii.  409. 


'4.  186. 

72  Ann  Radcliffe  in  Relation  to  Her  Time 

.We  should  have  expected  The  Mysteries  of  Udolpho, 
from  its  popularity  and  the  dramatic  quality  of  its  situations, 
to  receive  effective  treatment  on  the  stage ;  but  the  only 
play  which  seems  to  have  any  connection  with  it  owed  little 
to  the  novel,  and  did  not  meet  with  great  success.  This  was 
The  Mysteries  of  the  Castle,  by  Miles  Peter  Andrews,  pre- 
sented at  Covent  Garden,  January  31,  1795.  The  European 
Magazine*  says  of  it : 

In  this  drama  it  was  expected  that  The  Mysteries  of  Udolpho* 
would  have  furnished  the  principal  part  of  the  plot.  The  name 
of  Montoni  only  is  taken  from  thence,  but  the  character  exhibits 
few  of  the  daring,  bold  qualities  of  that  fierce  assassin. 
Although  nothing  else  is  taken  from  Udolpho,  Mr.  Andrews  has 
availed  himself  of  a  striking  incident  in  The  Sicilian  Romance' 
of  the  same  Author,  which  forms  the  tragic  part  of  this  absurd 
mixture  of  tragedy,  comedy,  farce,  opera,  and  pantomime. 

The  Critical  Review*  remarks : 

It  is  one  of  those  pieces  which  must  depend  on  song  and 
scenery.  The  story  is  partly  taken  from  Mrs.  Radcliffe's  excel- 
lent romance;  but  we  fear  that  lady  will  not  feel  herself 
flattered  by  the  relationship. 

Mr.  Boaden  tried  his  hand  at  a  dramatization  of  The 
Italian,  in  The  Italian  Monk,  acted  at  the  Haymarket, 
August  15,  1797.  The  reviews  of  this  play  are  for  the  most 
part  less  favorable  than  those  of  Fontainville  Forest.  The 
comment  of  Genest  upon  it  is : 

This  play  in  3  acts  is  Mrs.  Radcliffe's  interesting  Romance 

badly  dramatized  by  Boaden.    ...    It  is  written  partly  in 

blank  verse  and  partly  in  prose.    .    .    .  It  would'  have  been 
better  if  the  whole  had  been  in  prose. 

A  scathing  review  appeared  in  The  Monthly  Visitor  for 
August,  I797-3  In  this,  The  Italian  Monk  is  considered  as 
a  sort  of  parody  on  The  Italian.  Mr.  Boaden  is  blamed  for 

'27.  124. 

*N.  Ar.  14.  iox. 

9  2.  157. 

Work  73 

changing  the  characters,  and  for  introducing  needless  buf- 
foonery. His  only  successful  passages,  according  to  this 
writer,  are  those  in  which  he  keeps  very  close  to  Mrs.  Rad- 
cliffe's  own  words. 

Certainly  the  songs,  quoted  in  some  of  the  reviews,  and 
published  separately  in  the  Lady's  Magazine  for  September, 
I797,1  are  not  at  all  in  keeping  with  the  sombre  tone  of  Mrs. 
Radcliffe's  book.  One  of  them  is  sung  by  Fioresca,  a  char- 
acter created  by  Mr.  Boaden,  to  make  a  sweetheart  for 
Paullo,  the  (supposedly)  humorous  servant :  i- 

Other  maidens  bait  their  hooks    ,; 
With  practis'd  glances,  tender  looks, 
And  study  tricks  from  subtle  books, 
To  hold  the  lover  fast. 
Their  golden  line  of  locks  so  fine 
Before  his  simple  eye  they  cast, 
With  bending  bait,  and  swimming  gait, 
To  make  him  sure  at  last. 

Nonny,  nonny,  nonnino, 

Nonny,  nonny,  nonnino, 

Nonny,  nonny,  nonnino— 

To  make  him  sure  at  last. 

When  the  village  youth  would  bear 

Me  trinkets  from  the  distant  fair,    . 

However  they  were  rich  or  rare, 

My  Paullo  pleased  me  best: 
What  though,  the  work  of  costly  art, 
They  call'd  for  praise  in  ev'ry  part  ? 
My  Paullo  with  it  gave  his  heart ; 
And  what  was  all  the  rest, 
Nonny,  nonny,  etc. 
And  what  was  all  the  rest? 

Mr.  Boaden  also  changed  the  character  of  Schedoni,  and 
the  whole  climax  of  the  plot.  Instead  of  having  actually 
murdered  his  brother,  the  monk  merely  thinks  he  has 
murdered  his  wife.  In  the  end  he  discovers  his  mistake, 



Ann  Radcliffe  in  Relation  to  Her  Time 

and  is  happily  reunited  to  her,  instead  of  dying  in  agony, 
as  in  Mrs.  Radcliffe's  version. 

On  the  whole,  The  Italian  Monk  seems  to  have  been  quite 
in  the  fashion  of  the  day.  It  was  much  the  sort  of  thing 
which  Lewis  did  in  The  Castle  Spectre,  a  hash  of  melo- 
drama and  absurdity,  with  here  and  there  a  touch  of  flip- 
pancy, showing  that  the  author  himself  did  not  take  it  very 
seriously.  It  surely  is  not  an  adequate  dramatization  of 
The  Italian,  a  book  which  contains  material  for  an  excellent 
melodrama,  or  even,  perhaps,  if  correctly  managed,  a  gen- 
uine tragedy. 

Mrs.  Radcliffe's  last  romance  was  dramatized,  but  appar- 
ently never  produced.  The  play  Gaston  de  Blondeville  is 
published  in  the  Dramatic  Works  of  Mary  Russell  Mitford. 
In  the  introduction  to  the  1854  edition1  the  author  makes 
the  statement : 

'Sadak  and  Kalasrade'  was  written  to  gratify  a  young  musician, 
and  'Gaston  de  Blondeville'  because  I  thought,  and  still  think, 
that  the  story,  taken  from  Mrs.  Radcliffe's  posthumous  romance, 
would  be  very  effective  as  mere  spectacle — a  play  to  look  at — 
upon  the  stage. 

In  one  of  her  letters2  Miss  Mitford  wrote : 

William  Harness  has  been  most  unexpectedly  struck  with 
'Gaston  de  Blondeville.'  .  .  .  The  book  from  which  it  was 
taken  had  no  story,  so  that,  except  the  real  ghost,  and  the 
first  hint  of  the  supernatural  pageants,  it  is  really  my  own. 
William  declares  that  it  made  his  blood  run  cold.  ;< 

Miss  Mitford  here  seems  hardly  fair  to  her  source.  Her 
list  of  characters  is  practically  the  same  as  Mrs.  Radcliffe's, 
and  the  play  follows  closely  the  sequence  of  events  in  the 
romance.  Hugh  Woodreeve,  the  merchant,  accuses  the 
king's  favorite  of  robbery  and  murder.  The  merchant  is 
imprisoned  in  the  tower,  and  preparations  go  on  for  the 
bridal  of  Gaston,  the  favorite,  with  the  daughter  of  the  Earl 

1  P.  XXXI. 

*  Letters  and  Life  2.  219. 

Work  75 

of  Huntingdon.  The  bridal  is  interrupted  by  the  appearance 
of  the  ghost.  The  scene  of  the  banquet,  with  the  supernat- 
ural pageants,  is  the  same.  The  merchant  is  condemned  to 
be  tried  for  witchcraft.  He  summons  Gaston  to  the  wager 
of  battle.  Then  comes  the  principal  change  in  the  story. 
Miss  Mitford  has  introduced  a  new  character,  Albert,  the 
page,  and  there  has  been  hint  of  a  love-affair  between  him 
and  Gaston's  destined  bride.  When  Woodreeve  is  in  need 
of  a  champion,  Albert  appears  with  a  scroll  proving  that  he 
is  the  son  of  Sir  Reginald  de  Tolville,  whose  ghost  has  been 
demanding  vengeance.  He  fights  with  Gaston,  and,  being 
young  and  inexperienced,  is  about  to  be  overcome,  when  the 
ghost  appears.  Gaston  falls,  dropping  his  sword,  and  Albert 
kills  him. 

It  is  true  that  the  introduction  of  Albert  supplies  more 
plot-interest.  But  in  view  of  all  that  she  took  from  Mrs. 
Radcliffe,  Miss  Mitford  does  not  really  seem  justified  in 
saying  that  the  story  was  entirely  her  own.  In  some  re- 
spects, however,  the  play  has  the  advantage  of  the  novel. 
As  some  of  the  critics  remarked,  the  plot  of  Gaston  de 
Blondeville  had  hardly  enough  complication  and  incident  to 
make  a  complete  novel.  It  does  better  in  the  compression  of 
dramatic  form.  Then,  too,  of  necessity  the  ghost  must  make 
fewer  appearances,  and  this  makes  him  more  effective. 

On  the  whole,  the  dramatizations  of  Mrs.  Radcliffe's 
stories  seem  to  have  had  small  value  of  their  own.  They 
are  chiefly  interesting  because  they  furnish  some  additional 
testimony  to  her  popularity.  It  must  be  said,  too,  that  they 
emphasize  the  weaker  side  of  her  work,  the  side  which  was 
in  harmony  with  the  melodramatic  stage-fashions  of  the  day. 
The  faults  of  the  novels  become  more  glaring  in  the  plays. 
When  the  drama  is  in  the  condition  it  had  reached  in  the 
last  decade  of  the  eighteenth  century,  a  novel,  in  taking  to 
the  stage,  must  say  goodbye  to  any  artistic  unity.  Shake- 
speare's plays,  it  is  true",  still  held  their  place,  and  there  had 
recently  been  some  revival  of  interest  in  minor  Elizabethans. 

76  Ann  Radcliffe  in  Relation  to  Her  Time 

But  the  German  influx  had  begun.  Monk  Lewis  and  other 
translators  and  adaptors  were  giving  the  public  a  full  portion 
of  what  it  seemed  to  want — sensation  and  sentimentality. 
No  wonder  that  any  novel  which  had  a  supply  of  these  de- 
sirable qualities  was  eagerly  seized  upon,  and  too  often  used 

A  comment  quite  to  the  point  was  made  in  the  European 
Magazine  for  March,  1799,*  in  an  article  entitled  Instance  of 
Posthumous  Friendship,  with  a  hint  to  the  Dr&matizers  of 

It  is  related  of  the  gypsies,  that  they  commit  depredations 
upon  the  poultry  of  those  who  reside  in  distant  parts  of  the 
country,  while  they  carefully  abstain  from  attacks  on  their 
immediate  neighbors.  Such  should  be  the  policy  of  the  Romance 
clippers  of  the  present  day.  A  young  gentleman  or  young 
lady  (probably  the  latter)  sits  down  to  write  a  romance; — good. 
The  romance  happens  to  have  an  extensive  sale; — good  again. 
A  certain  dramatic  Author,  with  more  cunning  than  genius,  lays 
his  unmerciful  hands  upon  the  book,  melts  it  down  in  his  scenic 
crucible,  and  vends  it  as  his  own.  . 

By  such  unfair  proceedings,  the  original  Author  or  Authoress 
is  reduced  to  an  unfortunate  dilemma; — if  the  play  succeeds,  it 
runs  away  with  all  the  popularity;  if  it  fails,  the  failure  casts  a 
shade  of  ridicule  and  disgrace  on  the  romance.  Thus  has  it 
fared  with  many  a  writer's  effusions,  and  particularly  with  those 
natural,  moral,  and  meritorious  productions,  Caleb  Williams, 
The  Italian,  and  The  Monk;  whose  fairest  flowers  are  withered 
by  the  dulness  of  The  Iron  Chest,  The  Italian  Monk,  and  Aurelio 
and  Miranda. 

We  may  not  wholly  agree  with  this  writer  when  he  calls 
a  book  like  Lewis'  Monk  'natural,  moral,  and  meritorious/ 
but  when  he  speaks  of  the  'depredations'  of  the  playwrights, 
he  is  probably  characterizing  pretty  aptly  a  tendency  of  the 

:   13S.  161. 



Most  critics  who  have  given  any  attention  to  Mrs.  Rad- 
cliffe  as  a  novelist  have  decided  that  she  is  important  chiefly 
for  her  use  of  the.  supernatural,  and  for  her  emphasis  upon 
landscape.  Although  she  is,  indeed,  a  pioneer  in  both  these 
fields,  it  has  seemed  to  me  that,  after  all,  her  most  important 
contribution  is  a  matter  not  of  theme,  but  of  structure. 

Dibelius  attributes  Mrs.  Radcliffe's  methods  almost  en- 
tirely to  the  influence  of  Fielding  and  Richardson,  assisted 
by  the  French  romances.1  He  works  out  an  elaborate  par- 
allel between  the  technique  of  Fielding  and  that  of  the  'new 
romances'  as  originated  by  Walpole  and  perfected  by  Mrs. 

Professor  Cross,  in  his  History  of  Henry  Fielding,  speaks 
of  both  Richardson  and  Fielding  as  adopting  a  dramatic 
structure  in  their  stories.  'From  the  structural  point  of 
view,1  he  says,  'this  dramatic  manner  was  the  novelty  that 
Richardson  at  a  stroke  brought  into  fiction/2  And  in  re- 
lation to  Fielding — ' Being  a  dramatist,  Fielding  could  not 
conceive  of  a  novel  without  an  elaborate  plot.  .  .  ;,«' 
Upon  his  plot,  too,  he  depended  for  keeping  his  readers  alert 
through  six  volumes.'3 

It  is  true  that  both  Richardson  and  Fielding  departed 
considerably  from  the  simple  picaresque  method  of  Defoe 
and  Smollett.  Most  of  the  incidents  of  their  stories  had 
their  part  in  the  working  out  of  a  definitely  conceived  plan. 
But  this  plan  was  not,  after  all,  the  most  important  part  of 
the  work.  Professor  Cross  suggests  a  different  point  of 

lEnglische  Romankunst  I.  287-8. 
•2.  158. 
•2.  160. 

78  Ann  Radcliffe  in  Relation  to  Her  Time 

view  when  he  says, '  "Tom  Jones"  .  .  .  was  to  be  the  ful- 
filment of  that  earlier  design  of  a  comic  epic  such  as  Homer 
might  have  written.'1  And  Fielding  suggests  it  himself 
when,  in  the  first  chapter  of  Tom  Jones,  he  says  that  the 
provision  he  has  made  for  his  readers  is  human  nature. 

Tom  Jones  develops  the  picaresque  form  into  an  epic,  in' 
which  the  hero  and  hi's  adventures  show  us  the  men  and 
manners  of  a  whole  period.  Fielding  does,  it  is  true,  experi- 
ment with  the  dramatic  structure,  but  only  as  an  additional 
interest,  not  as  an  aim  in  itself.  When  Dibelius  speaks  of. 
misleading  the  reader  as  part  of  Fielding's  technique,2  it 
seems  to  me  that  he  stresses  the  point  too  much.  We  never 
feel  convinced  that  Tom  is  the  son  of  Jenny  Jones;  we 
know  that  the  suggestion  is  only  a  cloak  to  conceal  his  real 
parentage.  And  when  Fielding  pretends  to  be  afraid  that 
he  cannot  rescue  Tom  from  his  calamities,3  we  understand 
that  it  is  mere  pretense,  and  that  within  a  few  chapters  a 
happy  marriage  is  due.  The  interesting  thing  is  the  process 
by  which  this  end  is  achieved.  Tom's  reaction  upon  his 
surroundings,  and  the  comprehensive  picture  of  English. life 
which  the  book  gives,  hold  the  reader,  in  my  opinion,  more 
than  the  working  out  of  the  plot.  Professor  Cross  himself 
admits  that  Fielding's  method  is,  .in  general,  epic  rather 
than  dramatic,  when  he  says,  'Perhaps  Fielding  did  all  that 
could  be  done  in  adapting  the  structure  of  the  Odyssey  to  a 
novel,  but  the  form  at  best  remains  awkward.'* 

In  Richardson's  novels,  again,  we  are  not  so  much  in- 
terested in  what  is  going  to  happen  as  in  how  it  happens, 
and  in  his  case  the  how  is  a  matter  of  human  character. 
The  people  who  read  Clarissa  Harlowe,  and  begged  the 
author  not  to  let  Clarissa  die,  did  not  care  whether  the  end- 
ing was  a  logical  development  of  circumstances ;  they  were 

12.  160. 
'  I.  122. 

9  Tom  Jones  3.  247. 

4  2.  327. 

Contribution  to  the  Novel 


interested  in  the  ending  because  they  were  interested  in 

In  none  of  these  novelists,  then,  do  we  find  the  main  in-  ~\ 
tefest  in  plot.  Character,  manners,  adventure  in  and  for  1 
itself,  not  necessarily  contributing  toward  the  final  climax  1 
—  these  are  emphasized  in  the  work  of  Defoe,  Richardson,  I 
Fielding,  and  Smollett. 

.  It  is  not  until  we  reach  Walpole  that  we  have  a  definite 
attempt  to  found  the  novel  upon  the  technique  of  the  drama. 
In  his  preface  to  the  first  edition  of  The  Castle  of  Otranto, 
Walpole  says,  'The  rules  of  the  drama  are  almost  observed 
throughout  the  piece.'  In  the  preface  to  the  second  edition 
he  defends  his  inclusion  of  comic  characters  by  the  example 
of  Shakespeare,  who,  he  says,  'in  his  deepest  tragedies, 
has  introduced  the  coarse  humor  of  grave-diggers  and 
clumsy  jests  of  the  Roman  citizens/  This,  by  the  way, 
seems  to  oppose  Dibelius'  theory  that  the  servant  as  intro- 
duced in  Mrs.  Radcliffe's  novels  and  in  The  Cattle  of 
Otranto  is  imitated  from  Sancho  Panza.1  Not  phly.was  Mrs. 
Radcliffe,  in  copying  Walpole's  talkative  servants,  carrying 
on  a  Shakespearian  inspiration,  but  she  may  have  gone 
directly  to  Shakespeare  herself  for  some  of  her  minor 
characters,  Her  garrulous  old  women,  like  Dorothee  and 
Teresa  in  The  Mysteries  of  Udolpho,  might  easily  have  been 
suggested  by  Juliet  's  nurse.— 

Walpole's  attempt  at  dramatic  structure  was  a  feeble  at- 
tempt enough,  but  it  contained  the  essential  elements  of 
the  method  which  Mrs.  Radcliffe  was  to  carry  to  a  much 
higher  development.  His  aim  was  to  excite  the  curiosity  of 
the  reader,  and  keep  him  waiting  for  the  final  denouement. 

To  a  modern  reader,  however,  the  whole  thing  is  so  absurdly 
\  improbable  that  it  excites  no  curiosity  at  all,  and  the  climax 
\  is  a  matter  of  indifference. 

is  founded  uponhe  principle 

*  1.  297- 

8o  Ann  Radcliffe  in  Relation  to  Her  Time 

which  Walpdle  tried  with  imperfect  success  to  embody  in 
his  work — the  principle  of  suspense;  and  it  is  to  this 
method,  probably,'  that  she  owed  not  only  her  immediate 
popularity,  but  much  of  her  importance,  in  literary  history. 
The  essentially  dramatic  quality  of  her  stories  is  shown  by 
the  fact  which  I  have  already  pointed  out,  that  all  but  one 
were  dramatized,  and  most  of  the  resulting  plays  were  suc- 
cessfully performed.  It  is  interesting  to  notice  that  her 
handling  of  this  element  of  suspense  grows  more  skilful  in 
each  successive  book,  excepting,  perhaps,  Gaston  de  Blonde- 
vllle,  which  was  an  experiment  in  a  new  field.  It  may  be 
worth  while  to  make  a  very  brief  survey  of  the  different 
plots  from  this  point  of  view. 

In  The  Castles  of  Athlin  and  Dunbayne,  Malcolm  has  slain 
the  Earl  of  Athlin.  The  Earl's  widow  survives  him,  with 
two  children,  Osbert  and  Mary.  Osbert,  while  wandering 
about  the  country,  is  entertained  in  a  peasant's  cottage,  and 
a  young  peasant,  Alleyn,  guides  him  home.  A  festival  is 
held  at  the  castle,  and  Alleyn  wins  first  place  in  the  games. 
As  a  reward,  he  .is  permitted  to  dance  with  Mary,  and  at 
once  falls  in  love  with  her.  Osbert,  wishing  to  avenge  his 
father,  summons-  the  clan  for  an  attack  on  the  Castle  of 
Dunbayne.  They  succeed  in  getting  inside  the  castle,  but 
find  that  Malcolm  has  been  warned  by  spies,  and  has  armed 
men  ready  to  seize  them.  Osbert  and  Alleyn  are  both  im- 
prisoned, but  Alleyn  escapes  just  in  time  to  save  Mary,  who 
is  being  carried  off  by  Malcolm's  horsemen.  He  leads  the 
clan  in  an  attempt  to  rescue  Osbert.  Malcolm  brings  Osbert 
to  the  ramparts,  and  tells  the  besiegers  that  the  moment  of 
attack  is  the  moment  of  Osbert's  death.  The  only  ransom 
he  will  accept  is  the  gift  of  Mary  as  his  wife.  Mary  is 
ready  to  consent  in  order  to  save  her  brother,  although  she 
loves  Alleyn.  Alleyn  finally  succeeds  in  getting  one  of  the 
soldiers  on  guard  to  help  Osbert  escape.  Meanwhile, 
Osbert:  has  become  acquainted  with  the  widow  and  daughter 
of  Malcolm's  brother,  who  have  been  defrauded  of  their 

Contribution  to  the  Novel  81 

property,  and  are  kept  imprisoned  in  the  castle.  A  relative 
of  theirs,  the  Count  de  Santmorin,  is  received  at  the  Castle 
of  Athlin  after  Osbert's  return,  and  asks  for  Mary's  hand, 
but  she  is  unwilling  to  receive  him  as  a  suitor.  Malcolm 
besieges  the  castle,  and  is  mortally  wounded  by  Osbert. 
After  he  has  been  taken  back  to  his  own  castle,  he  confesses 
to  the  Baroness  that  her  son  did  not  die,  but  was  en- 
trusted to  some  peasants.  In  the  meantime,  there  has  been 
a  second  attempt  to  carry  off  Mary,  this  time  by  the  Count. 
She  is  again  rescued  by  Alleyn,  and  they  go  on  to  the  Castle 
of  Dunbayne,  where  Osbert  and  Laura,  the  daughter  of  the 
Baroness,  were  about  to  be  married  when  Mary's  disap- 
pearance caused  delay.  The  Baroness  immediately  recog- 
nizes Alleyn  as  her  son  by  his  resemblance  to  his  father, 
and  confirms  her  recognition  by  finding  the  strawberry- 
mark  on  his  arm.  A  double  wedding  is  celebrated — Osbert 
and  Laura,  Alleyn  and  Mary. 

It  will  be  clear  from  this  brief  rcsumt  that  only  rather 
ordinary  means  of  suspense  are  employed  here,  as  in  the 
case  of  Mary's  two  abductions,  with  the  opportune  rescue. 
The  most  striking  instance  is  the  scene  in  which  Osbert  is 
brought  to  the  ramparts,  and  his  clansmen  are  warned  that 
if  they  attack,  his  life  is  lost.  It  is  evident,  of  course,  when 
Alleyn  falls  in  love  with  Mary,  that  something  must  be  done 
to  prove  him  of  noble  birth,  and  as  soon  as  we  find  out  that 
the  Baroness  has  had  a  son,  the  ending  is  clear. 

A  Sicilian  Romance  shows  a  decided  advance  in  plot- 
making.  In  fact,  it  may  be  said  that  there  is  too  much  plot : 
the  events  follow  each  other  with  the  rapidity  of  a  moving 
picture.  The  very  first  part  of  the  story  shows  the  use  of 
suspense  in  exciting  the  reader's  curiosity.  The  Marquis 
of  Mazzini  has  been  married  a  second  time,  to  a  very  beauti- 
ful and  pleasure-loving  woman.  Madame  de  Menon,  a 
friend  of  his  first  wife,  has  charge  of  the  education  of  his 
two  daughters.  The  southern  wing  of  the  castle  has  been 
closed  for  years,  but  a  mysterious  light  has  been  seen  there, 

82  Ann  Radcliffe  in  Relation  to  Her  Time 

which  has  aroused  the  anxiety  of  Madame  de  Menon  and  the 
superstition  of  the  servants.  One  of  the  servants,  Vincent, 
on  his  death-bed  tries  to  tell -the  secret,  and  does  confess  to 
the  priest,  but  dies  before  he  can  tell  Madame  de  Menon. 
Ferdinand,  the  son  of  the  marquis,  comes  of  age,  and  there 
is  a  great  party  to  celebrate  his  majority.  The  marchioness 
is  jealous  because  Hippolitus,  Count  de  Vereza,  whom  she 
admires,  prefers  Julia.  He  leaves  unexpectedly.  Julia 
and  Emilia  are  obliged  to  give  up  their  rooms  to  the  mar- 
chioness, and  are  put  into  rooms  adjoining  the  southern 
wing.  Here  they  are  frightened  .by  strange  noises,  and  tell 
Ferdinand,  who  explores  the  wing,  but  finds  nothing,  Hip- 
politus returns,  and  declares  his  love  for  Julia,  but  the 
marquis  insists  that  she  shall  marry  the  Duke  de  Luovo. 
Ferdinand  and  Hippolitus  plan  an  elopement,  but  it  is  pre- 
vented, and  Julia  is  imprisoned.  Her  maid  helps  her  to 
escape.  The  Duke  searches  for  her  in  vain.  Madame  de 
Menon  leaves  the  castle,  finds  Julia,  and  takes  her  to  the 
monastery  of  St.  Augustine,  to  the  protection  of  the  church. 
From  this  point,  the  story  is  a  series  of  escapes  and  dis- 
coveries. Julia  is  about  to  become  a  nun,  to  avoid  being 
given  back  to  her  father,  when  Ferdinand  comes  and  tells 
her  that  Hippolitus  is  not  dead,  as  she  has  heard.  They 
leave  the  monastery,  and  reach  a  ship  which  is  to  take  them 
to  Italy,  but  are  shipwrecked.  They  take  refuge  in  a  villa. 
Meanwhile  Hippolitus  has  come  in  search  of  Julia,  and  finds 
that  she  has  left  the  monastery.  He  loses,  his  way,  and 
arrives  at  a  ruin,  where  he  finds  a  crowd  of  banditti,  with 
a  man  who  seems  to  be  dying.  In  fleeing  from  the  banditti, 
he  reaches  a  chamber  where  he  finds  Julia.  Some  officers 
come  to  their  aid,  but  more  banditti  arrive,  and  overpower 
them.  Julia  and  Hippolitus  escape.  They  are  pursued  by 
the  Duke  and  his  followers ;  Julia  leaves  Hippolitus  resisting 
them,  and  runs  into  a  cavern.  She  goes  through  a  floor  and 
closes  it,  wanders  on  until  she  reaches  another  door,  and 
unbolts  it.  Through  this  she  enters  a  room,  and  finds  a 

Contribution  to  the  Novel  83 

woman  who  greets  her  as  a  daughter.  She  has  reached 
the  southern  wing  of  the  castle,  and  the  secret  is  revealed. 
The  marquis  shut  his  first  wife  up  here,  because  he  wished 
to  marry  another  woman,  and  here  he  has  kept  her  all  these 
years.  Julia  remains  with  her  mother,  going  out  into  the 
passage  whenever  the  marqu-s  comes  with  food.  He  re- 
solves to  kill  his  wife,  because  he  wants  to  put  the  proof  of 
his  guilt  out  of  the  way.  He  puts  poison  in  the  food  he 
brings  to  hef,  but  on  that  very  day  Hippolitus  has  traced 
Julia  to  her  mother's  chamber,  and  they  make  their  escape 
just  after  the  marquis*  visit.  The  marquis,  on  returning  to 
his  room,  feels  dizzy  and  faint,  and  a  servant  finds  him  in 
agony.  Ferdinand  runs  to  the  room  of  his  stepmother,  and 
finds  her  stabbed  by  her  own  hand.  A  letter  beside  her  tells 
the  marquis  she  has  poisoned  him.  The  marquis,  before  he 
dies,  tells  Ferdinand  about  his  mother.  Julia  and  Hippolitus 
are  married,  and  the  family  is  happily  united. 

It  is  easy  to  see  the  opportunity  for  suspense  in  the  var- 
ious wanderings  and  reunions.  Some  good  examples  are 
found  in  Julia's  flight.  Madame  De  Menon,  when  she  starts 
out,  does  not  find  Julia  in  the  cottage  where  she  had  expected 
to  take  refuge,  and  it  seems  for  a  time  that  the  plan  has  mis- 
carried. Again,  Julia  thinks  she  is  pursued  by  the  Duke, 
but  finds  that  her  pursuer  is  a  man  who  is  trying  to  recover 
his  daughter.  The  same  situation  occurs  when  the  Duke 
thinks  he  has  found  Julia,  and  discovers  that  he  has  been 
following  the  wrong  couple.  The  most  striking  example 
of  suspense,  however,  is  Vincent's  attempt  to  tell  the  secret, 
and  his  dying  before  he  can  reveal  it.  The  reader  does  not 
discover  the  truth  until  far  along  in  the  story,  when  Julia 
comes  upon  her  mother  in  the  secret  chamber. 

The  Romance  of  the  Forest  has  more  simplicity  of  plot, 
and  better  treatment  of  suspense  as  a  means  of  arousing 
interest.  At  the  very  first  our  curiosity  is  excited,  when 
La  Motte,  inquiring  his  way  at  the  cottage  in  the  woods,  is 
asked  to  take  away  a  beautiful  and  distressed  girl.  When 


84  Ann  Radcliffe  in  Relation  to  Her  Time 

they  come  to  the  ruined  abbey,  and  decide  to  stay  there,  we 
are  constantly  kept  in  suspense  as  to  whether  their  hiding- 
place  will  be  discovered.  The  peculiar  behavior  of  La 
Motte,  when  he  first  sees  the  Marquis  of  Montalt,  shows 
that  there  is  some  dark  secret  between  them.  When  Theo- 
dore, after  rescuing  Adeline  from  the  marquis'  villa,  wounds 
the  marquis,  and  is  arrested,  we  fear  evil  consequences. 
Another  moment  of  suspense  comes  when  Adeline  has  been 
given  once  more  into  the  charge  of  La  Motte  in  the  abbey, 
and  the  marquis,  after  seeing  a  note  which  Adeline  has 
written  to  Theodore,  orders  La  Motte  to  kill  her.  Again, 
Theodore  is  about  to  be  executed  when  Louis  La  Motte 
hears  of  accusations  which  have  been  made  against  the 
marquis,  and  has  the  execution  delayed.  It  develops  that 
Adeline  is  the  daughter  of  the  marquis'  brother,  whom  he 
has  murdered  in  order  to  get  the  property.  He  discovered' 
her  identity  by  her  mother's  seal  on  the  letter  she  had  writ- 
ten, and  had  intended  to  have  her  put  out  of  the  way  also. 
A  characteristic  use  of  suspense  in  this  story  is  found  where 
Adeline  is  obliged  to  stop  reading  at  an  exciting  point  in 
the  manuscript,  because  her  light  goes  out.  Another  time 
of  anxiety  is  at  the  apparent  discovery  of  La  Motte's  hid- 
ing-place, when  the  intruder  turns  out  to  be  his  own  son. 
^Jlh^__Myst£ric^  of  JLLdolfrluLJs  full  of,.compHeatiojis  and 
unexpected  turns,  but  the  main  story  earn- be  told  in  few 
words.  Emily  St.  Aubert  and  her  father;  after  Madame 
St.  Aubert's  death,  set  out  on  a  journey.  They  meet  Val- 
ancourt,  who  falls  in  love  with  Emily.  During  the  journey 
St.  Aubert  dies,  leaving  Emily  to  the  care  of  her  aunt. 
This  aunt,  after  some  encouragement  oL,Ya]ancoiirt,  for- 
bids the  marriage,  and  herself  marries  Montoni,  an  Italian. 
They  take  Emily  to  Venice,  and  afterward  to  Montoni's 
castle,  Udolpho,  in  the  Apennines.  The.  rest  .of.  the  story 
narrates  Emily's  adventures  in  the  castle,  her  escape,  her 
reception  in  the  Chateau  de  Villefort,  and  her  final  union 
with  Valancourt.  It  would  be  superfluous  to  mention  all 

.   Contribution  to  the  Novel  85 

the  places  in  this  story  where  Mrs.  Radcliffe  makes  use  of 
suspense.  "  Before  they  leave  home,  Emily  sees  her  father 
looking  intently  at  a  miniature  which  she  knows  is  not  a 
picture  of  her  mother.  When  he  is  dying,  he  asks  her  to 
burn  certain  papers  without  looking  at  them.  In  burning 
them,, she  notices  involuntarily  two  lines  of  writing  which 
make  a  terrible  impression  upon  her.  She  is  tempted  to 
read  on,  but  obeys  her  father's  request.  Her  curiosity  re- 
mains  unsatisfied,  and  the  reader's  is  still  more  so,  for  he 
has  not  even  seen  the  two  lines.  The  most  famous  incident 
in  the  story  is  that  of  the  black  veil.  Emily  has  been  told 
of  a  mysterious  picture,  concealed  behind  a  black  curtain. 
Coming  upon  it  by  accident,  she  is  urged  by  curiosity  to  lift 
«s  the  curtain.  She  falls  senseless  to  the  floor,  and.  it  is  not 
until  the  end  of  the  book  that  we  find  out  what  she  has  seen. 
Another  scene  almost  as  hair-raising  is  the  visit  of  Emily 
and  Dorothee  to  the  room  of  the  dead  marchioness,  when 
the  black  pall  on  the  bed  begins  slowly  to  rise,  and  Emily  is 
sure  that  she  sees  peering  from  beneath  it  a  human  face. 
The  disappearance  of  Ludovico  from  this  same  room  is 
another  good  example  of  suspense;  it  is  not  until  after 
many  pages  that  we  get  the  explanation — a  band  of  smug- 
glers has  been  using  that  wing  of  the  chateau  as  a  hiding- 
place  for  stolen  goods,  and  they  have  carried  off  Ludovico 
to  encourage  the  belief  that  the  rooms  are  haunted.  The 
wholq  book  is  a  study  in  suspense;  we  art  interested  not 
so  much  in  the  adventures  themselves  as  in  the  outcome  of 
the  adventures,  the  explanation  of  the  mysteries. 

The  Italian  has  perhaps  the  most  dramatic  plot  of  all. 
In  its  essential  theme  it.  is  rather  hackneyed,  for  it  is  the 
old  story  of  true  love  which  does  not  run  smooth.  Vin-  . 
centio  di  Vivaldi  has  seen  Ellena  Rosalba  at  church,  and  has 
fallen  in  love  with  her.  He  forms  an  acquaintance  with 
her  and  her  aunt,  and  visits  them  at  their  villa.  His  father 
and  mother,  however,  object  to  the  connection.  The  monk, 
Schedoni,  conspires  with.  Vivaldi's  mother,  the  Marchesa, 

86  Ann  Radcliffe  in  Relation  to  Her  Time 

to  get  Ellena  out  of  the  way.  She  is  first  taken  to  a  con- 
vent, but  Vivaldi  finds  her,  and  effects  her  escape.  They 
are  about  to  be  married,  when  they  are  arrested  in  the  name 
of  the  Inquisition.  Vivaldi  is  imprisoned  at  Rome;  Ellena 
is  taken  to  a  lonely  house  on  the  sea-shore,  where  occurs 
the  scene  mentioned  before — that  in  which  Schedoni,  about 
to  kill  her,  recognizes  his  own  picture  about  her  neck,  and 
thinks  that  she  is  his  daughter.  At  the  end  of  the  book, 
Schedoni  poisons  both  himself  and  the  monk  who  has  be- 
trayed him.  Ellena  finds  her  mother  in  the  nun  who  has 
befriended  her;  she  learns  that,  she  is  the  niece,  not  the 
daughter,  of  Schedoni;  and  she  and  Vivaldi  are  happily 

Suspense  is  a  powerful  element  in  the  story.  Vivaldi, 
in  his  visits  to  Ellena's  villa,  meets  by  the  ruined  fort  a 
mysterious  monk  who  warns  him  not  to  go  on.  The  appear- 
ances and  disappearances  of  this  monk  excite  our  curiosity, 
especially  when  Vivaldi  follows  him  into  the  ruin,  and  we 
are  not  told  what  he  has  found.  When  Vivaldi  and  Paulo 
visit  the  place  together,  Vivaldi  tells  Paulo  to  pause  and 
consider  whether  he  can  depend  upon  his  courage,  for  it  may 
be  severely  tried.  This,  again,  arouses  wonder  as  to  what 
Vivaldi  has  discovered.  The  whole  incident  of  Vivaldi's 
visit  to  the  convent  in  disguise  and  his  rescue  of  Ellena 
keeps  us  constantly  in  suspense  as  to  the  outcome.  In  the 
house  of  the  assassin,  Ellena's  fate  trembles  in  the  balance. 
In  the  Inquisition-scenes  our  attention  is  held  by  the  mys- 
terious voice  which  speaks  to  Vivaldi  in  his  cell,  and  which 
afterwards  accuses  Schedoni ;  we  can  easily  believe  that  'the 
silence  of  expectation  rapt  the  court.' 

One  way  in  which  Mrs.  RadclifTe  reinforces  this  element 
oLsjuspjensels  by  tfie  use  of  muslcfor  dramatic  effect.  She 
was,  aswe :  Tiave""seen,  very~Tond^6f  music,  and  nT~all  her 
stories  she  introduces  it  freely.  Her  heroines,  in  gazing  at 
a  beautiful  landscape,  are  almost  as  sure  to  hear  sweet  music 
as  they  are  to  compose  poetry.  But  it  is  not  used  merely 

Contribution  to  the  Novel  87 

to  enforce  description;  it  has  often  a  more  distinct  aim. 
A  striking  example  is  the  scene  in  The  Italian,  where  Sche- 
doni  and  the  Marchesa  are  planning  Ellena's  death : 

'Aye/  muttered  the  Confessor,  still  musing, — 'in  a  chamber  of 
that  house  there  is ' 

.'What  noise  is  that?"  said  the  Marchesa,  interrupting  him. 
They  listened.  A  few  low  and  querulous  notes  of  the  organ 
sounded  at  a  distance,  and  stopped  again. 

'What  mournful  music  is  that?'  enquired  the  Marchesa  in  a 
tremulous  voice.  'It  was  touched  by  a  fearful  hand  1  Vespers 
were  over  long  ago!' 

'Daughter,1  observed  Schedoni,  some  ./hat  sternly,  'you  said  you 
had  a  man's  courage.  Alas  i  you  have  a  woman's  heart* 

'Excuse  me,  father ;  I  know  not  why  I  feel  this  agitation,  but 
I  will  command  it.  That  chamber?'  .  .  . 

'A    passage   leads    to    the   sea/    continued    Schedoni.    .    , .";" 
'There,  on  the  shore,  when  darkness  covers  it;    there,  plunged 
amidst  the  waves,  no  stain  shall  hint  of 

'Hark !'  interrupted  the  Marchesa,  starting,  'that  note  again !' 

The  organ  sounded  faintly  from  the  choir,  and  paused,  as  be- 
fore. In  the  next  moment,  a  slow  chaunting  of  voices  was 
heard,  mingling  with  the  rising  peal,  in  a  strain  particularly 
melancholy  and  solemn. 

'Who  is  dead?'  said  the  Marchesa,  changing  countenance;  'it 
is  a  requiem !' 

Here  the  music  has  a  direct  dramatic  relation  to  the  action, 
in  its  working  upon  a  guilty  soul. 

Similar  examples,  where  music  plays  a  part  in  the  course 
of  the  narrative,  are  found  in  the  earlier  novels.  In  The 
Castles  of  Athlin  and  Dunbayne,  Osbert  is  confined  in  the 
castle  of  his  enemy  when  'the  soft  notes  of  a  lute  surprised 
his  attention/  Through  this  he  is  led  to  discover  the  pres- 
ence in  the  castle  of  the  two  ladies,  one  of  whom  immediately 
inspires  his  love. 

/\  In  The  Romance  of  the  Forest,  Adeline  is  recalled  from 
melancholy  and  despair  to  hopefulness  by  strains  of  music 
which,  by  changing  her  mood,  seem  to  hint  at  the  happy 
outcome  of  her  troubles.  Tke^Mysteries  of  Udolpho  makes 

83  Ann  Radcliffe  in  Relation  to  Her  Time 

constant  use  of  music  to  help  in  maintaining  suspense.  Per- 
haps the  most  dramatic  instance  is  the  scene  in  which  Emily 
and  the  old  servant,  Dorothee,  visit  the  chamber  of  the  dead 
marchioness : 

'I  will  only  tell  what  happened.    My  lord,  the  Marquis ' 

'Hush,  Dorothee,  what  sounds  were  those?'  said  Emily. 
Dorothee  changed  countenance,  and,  while  they  both  listened, 

they  heard,  on  the  stillness  of  the  night,  music  of  uncommon 


Dibelius  speaks  of  the  tendency  to  emphasize  individual) 

scenes  as  a  characteristic  which  distingoiishes_Mrs.  Rad-/ 
cliffe's  method  from  that  of  Fielding  and  ^nolietT)    This, 
it  seems  to  me,  is  proof  that  her  style  is  more-oistinctly 
dramatic.     In  thinking  of  one  of  Mrs.  Radcliffe's  storiesN 
as  in  thinking  of  a  play,  one  is  inclined  to  remember  striking  !  ^ 
scenes  rather  Jiian  a  continuous^narrative.     Especially  is? 
true_in^jr/tg  Mysteries  of  Udolpho  and  Ttie~~ltalian. 

Certain    definite   pictures   stand    out — Madame    Montoni's 
burial ;  the  duel  of  Montoni  and  the  Count ;    the  visit  of 
Emily  and   Dorothee  to  the  marchioness*  apartment ;    the 
scene  in  the  bandits'  cave ;   Ellena,  aroused  from  sleep  in 
her  gloomy  chamber  to  find  Schedoni  bending  over  her ;  • 
Ellena  and  Vivaldi  standing  before  the  priest  ready  for  the 
marriage   ceremony,    rudely    interrupted   by   the   band    of  < 

In  this  matter  of  structure,  one  can  hardly  deny  that  Mrs. 
Radcliffe  made  a  contribution  which  was  distinctive  and 
important.  Her  deliberate  use  of  suspense  as  an  artistic 
principle  is  something  entirely  different  from  the  method  of 
Richardson  and  Fielding  in  shaping  the  incidents  of  their 
stories  to  fit  into  a  general  plan.  Just  how  far  her  method 
affected  later  writers  is  a  question  which  it  would  be  diffi- 
cult to  answer  conclusively.  Scott  had  a  strong  feeling  for 
the  individual  scene,  and  we  know  that  in  many  ways  he 
was  influenced  by  Mrs.  Radcliffe's  work.  The  grej.t  novels 
of  the  nineteenth  century  show  a  combination  of  the  picar- 

Contribution  to  the  Novel  89 

esque  and  the  dramatic  methods,  with  the  emphasis,  prob- 
ably, upon  the  latter.  The  short  stories,  from  Poe  down 
to  the  latest  attempjgjin^)iir_inaga2inesr  ar<Tf  rmnlfeH"  upon 
the  principle  of  suspense  ;•  and  the  modern  detective  story, 
with  its  elaborate  niystification^jyidjte^ 
solution,  no  doubt  owes  much  to  Mrs,  Radcjjffe's  jnethods. 
She  gave  a  new  emphasis  to  action— not  action  in  and  for 
itself,  as  in  the  picaresque  novel,  but  action  as  bringing 
about  complications,  and  resolving  them. 

It  seems  hardly  fair,  then,  to  think  of  the  •'Gothic*  novel 
as  a  mere  side-issue  in  the  development  of  the  type — a  'blind 
alley'  leading  nowhere.  Walpole,  with  his  clumsy  begin- 
nings, and  Mrs.  Radcliffe,  with  the  perfected  method, 
added  something  to  the  plot  as  Richardson  and  Fielding  had 
conceived  it,  and  so  had  their  direct  share  in  the  develop- 
ment of  the  novel. 

Mrs.  Radcliffe's  influence  upon  the  subject-matter  of  the 

upon  its  structure.     Without  going  into  detail  upon .  this 
Question,  we  mav  briefly  recall  the  general  character  of  her 
contribution.     Scott  says  of  her  that  she  appeals  'to  those   \ 
powerful  and  general  sources  of  interest,  a  latent  sense  of  ./ 
supernatural   awe,   and   curiosity   concerning   whatever   is/ 
hidden  and  mysterious.'  / 

In  this  appeal  Scott  himself  followed  her.  Certain  of  his 
novels,  like  Woodstock  and  Anne  of  Geierstein,  remind  us 
of  Mrs.  Radcliffe  not  only  in  subject-matter,  but  in  treat- 
ment. 'Gothic'  themes  persisted  in  the  literature  of  the 
first  half  of  the  nineteenth  century.  Mrs.  Shelley,  in 
Frankenstein,  produced  a  tale  of  terror  which  carried  the 
supernatural  into  the  pseudo-scientific.  Maturin's  Melmoth 
the  Wanderer  makes  striking  use  of  physical  immortality  as 
a  means  of  spiritual  torture.  For  stories  of  mystery  we 
have  Bulwer's  Zanoni  and  Godwin's  St.  Leon.  Crime  be- 
comes an  important  element  in  novels  like  Bulwer's  Eugene 
Aram,  Godwin's  Caleb  Williams,  and  Ainsworth's  Rook- 

90  Ann  Radcliffe  in  Relation  to  Her  Time 

ivood  and  Jack  Sheppard.  This  tendency  to  picture  the  life 
and  character  of  criminals  is  shown  later  in  Dickens,  and  in 
the  vivid  representation  of  outlaw-life  which  we  find  in 
Lorna  Doonc.-  And  the  climax  of  Gothicism,  with  its  appeal 
to  the  'sense  of  supernatural  awe  and  curiosity  concerning 
whatever  is  hidden  and  mysterious,'  came  in  the  middle  of 
the  century  with  Emily  Bronte's  Withering  Heights. 

In  America  the  influence_is  qmte._as  striking,-  Charles 
Brockden  Brown  shows  perhaps  most  directly  and  unmis- 
takably the  res'emblance  to  Mrs.  Radcliffe.  Hawthorne,  and 
Poe  are  to  a  considerable- extent  'Gothic'  in  their  treatment 
of  the  supernatural  and  tiiejiiysterious.  Poe  also  resembles 
Mrs.  Radcliffe  in  the  fact  that  his  chief  aim  seems  to  be  to 
produce  in  his  reader  a  certain  emotional  effect,  and  in  his 
method  of  exciting  interest  by  suspense. 

We  may  say,  then,  that  Mis.  Radcliffe's  contribution  to 
the  nineteenth-century  novel  was  not  only  a  matter  of  , 
structure,  but  a  certain  more  indefinite  spirit — the  spirit  off 
curiosity  and  awe  before  the  mystery  of  things.  As  ml 
structure  her  method  of  dramatic  suspense  was  combined, 
with  the  picaresque  type  which  had  preceded  it,  so  in  theme 
this  new  romantic  spirit  blended  with  the  other  spirit  of 
realism  and  satire  that  the  earlier  and  greater  novelists  had 
introduced.  Dickens  is  following,  part  of  the  time,  in  trie: 
footsteps  of  realists  like  Fielding  and  Smollett.  But  when, 
in  Great  Expectations,  we  see  Miss  Havisham  by  her  dusty 
dressing-table,  on  which  lies  the  satin  slipper  turned  yellow 
with  age,  or  gaze  at  the  banqueting-table  with  the  wedding- 
cake  mouldering  in  the  centre,  we  might  be  in  the  dread 
chamber  of  the  chateau  where  Emily  and  Dorothee  found 
the  clothes  of  the  marchioness  lying  just  as  she  had  thrown 
them  off,  'and,  on  the  dressing-table,  a  pair  of  gloves  and  a 
long  black  veil,  which,  as  Emily  took  it  up  to  examine,  she 
1  perceived  was  dropping  to  pieces  with  age.'  In  the  first 
part  of  Jane  Eyre,  Charlotte  Bronte  gives  a  vivid  and  ap- 
parently realistic  picture  of  a  child's  suffering.  But  in  her 
portrayal  of  Rochester  she  seems  to  be  returning,  in  some 

Contribution  to  the  Novel 

degree,  to  Mrs.  Radcliffe's  conception  of  the  'villain-hero/ 
Still  more  is  this  true  of  Emily  Bronte,  in  her  amazing  and 
terrific  picture  of  Heathcliffe. 

Many  people  have  considered  that  Mrs.  Radcliffe's  most 
valuable  contribution  to  the  novel  was  her  use  of  natural 
scenery.  Miss  Reynolds  has  shown  that  eighteenth-century 
novelists  in  general  had  little  interest  in  the  surroundings  of 
their  heroes.  Except  in  the  novels  of  Charlotte  Smith, 
there  had  been  little  use  of  landscape  in  fiction  until,  as  Miss 
Reynolds  says,  'In  these  novels  by  Mrs.  RadclifTe  the  roman- 
tic landscape  was  presented  in  its  complete  form/1 

It  is  unnecessary  to  go  into  any  discussion  of  the  im- 
portance of  scenery  in  the  later  novels.  We  may  present  it 
as  our  general  conclusion  that  Mrs.  Radcliffe  modified  to 
some  degree  both  the  structure  and  the  theme  of  the  novel. 
In  structure  she  developed  the  principle  of  suspense,  adapt- 
ing to  fiction  more  completely  than  had  been  done  before  the 
technique  of  the  drama.  In  the  matter  of  theme  her  con- 
tribution was  twofold,  dealing  both  with  the  supernatural 
and  with  the  natural — that  is,  with  natural  scenery.  —^ 
One  must  of  course  realize  that  in  none  of  these 
fields  did  Mrs.  Radcliffe  take  the  very  first  step.  Wai- 
pole,  as  I  have  said  before,  made  some  use  of  dramatic 
climax  and  suspense,  although  it  was  pretty  feeble.  Thomas 
Leland,  in  his  Longsword,  published  in  1762,  has  the  earl 
kept  in  ignorance  of  the  fate  of  his  household,  but  the 
interruption  to  his  inquiries  is  not  very  reasonable : 

Now,  when  restored  to  a  degree  of  tranquillity,  he  again 
offered  at  some  inquiries  on  his  part,  of  his  house,  his  son  and 
wife,  but  was  instantly  interrupted  by  Randolph,  who  reminded 
him  of  rest1 

The  supernatural — or  rather,  the  apparently  supernatural, 
with  a  natural  ending,  quite  in  the  style  of  Mrs.  Radcliffe — 
is  found  in  Smollett's  Ferdinand,  Count  Fathom,  where 
Melvil,  going  to  mourn  in  the  church  where  he  supposes  his 

1  The  Treatment  of  Nature  in  English  Poetry,  p.  2i<* 
1  Longsword  i.  131. 

92  Ann  Radcliffe  in  Relation  to  Her  Time 

love  to  be  buried,  sees  what  he  thinks  to  be  her  spectre,  but 
discovers  that  it  is  the  living  woman.  The  treatment  here  is 
much  more  suggestive  of  Mrs.  Radcliffe's  method  than  the 
clumsy  magic  of  Walpole's  tale.  Charlotte  Smith  had  made 
some  use  of  landscape,  and  others,  as  Miss  Reynolds  points 
out,  had  introduced  little  touches  of  description.  Smollett 
has* one  passage  which  Miss  Reynolds  does  not  mention, 
where  Ferdinand 

Found  himself  benighted  in  the  midst  of  a  forest,  far  from 
the  habitations  of  men.  The  darkness  of  the  night,  the  silence 
and  solitude  of  the  place,  the  indistinct  images  of  the  trees  that 
appeared  on  every  side,  'stretching  their  extravagant  arms 
athwart  the  gloom/  conspired  with  the  dejection  of  spirits 
occasioned  by  his  loss,  to  disturb  his  fancy,  and  raise  strange 
phantoms  in  his  imagination.1 

This  is  quite  in  the  tone  of  'Gothic*  description,  especially 
when  we  realize  that  it  leads  up  to  a  scene  of  robbery. 

But,  after  all,  a  first  step  is  not  necessarily  a  decisive  step. 
These  tentative  beginnings  might  lead  to  nothing  if  Mrs. 
Radcliffe  had  not  assembled  the  scattered  hints,  and  shaped 
them  into  a  distinctly  characteristic  method,  into  a  type  of 
novel  strong  enough  to  win  popularity.     Smollett's   sug- 
gestion  of  -Gothicism/  Walpole's  patchwork  of  ghosts  and     1 
giants,  even  the  attempt  at  historical  romance  in  LongswordSX 
might  have  had  little  effect  upon  the  development  of  the      \ 
novel,  if  'Gothic*  themes  had  not  been  triumphantly  estab-    ^ 
lished  in  The  Romance  of  the  Forest  and  The  Mysteries  of 

Mrs.  Radcliffe  did,  then,  make  a  definite  and  important 
contribution  to  the  novel.  One  question,  however,  remains. 
If  she  did  make  such  a  decided  change  in  structure^such  a 
considerable  addition  in  theme,  how  does  it  happen  that 
her  contribution  was  not  in  itself  more  permanent?  Why 
are  her  books  relegated  to  the  darkest  and  dustiest  corner 
of  the  library  shelves — if,  indeed,  the  modern  library  own* 
them  at  all  ? 

1  Ferdinand,  Count  Fathom,  p.  145. 

*  Contribution  to  the  Novel  93 

The  answer  lies  in  one  undeniable  weakness — her  failure] 
to  individualize  her  characters.     It  has  been  saicTlhat  WC~ 
are  interested  in  the  places  which  Scott  describes  because  \ 
we   always  associate  them   with  the  people  that   he  has  1 
created.     Quite  the  opposite  is  true  of  Mrs.  Radcliffe.    We  ' 
are  interested  in  her  people,  for  the  most  part,  only  because 
of  the  situation  or  the  place  in  which  they  happen  to  find 

This  lack  of  characterization  leads,  naturally,  to  a  loss  of  J 
interest  after  one  reading.  At  first,  as  Talfourd  says,  we 
put  ourselves  into  the  place  of  the  hero  or  heroine,  and 
follow  the  adventures  with  an  almost  personal  interest.  But 
when  once  the  outcome  is  known,  there  is  no  incentive  to 
rereading;  there  are  no  characters  which  fascinate  us  by 
their  humanness,  so  that  we  wish  to  associate  with  them  over 
and  over  again. 

Then,  too,  lack  of  character-drawing  leads  to  lack  of 
motivation.  When  the  people  have  no  individuality,  there 
is  no  reason  why  they  should  do  one  thing  more  than 
another.  Therefore  situation  is  emphasized  in  and  for  it-, 
self ;  there  is  usually  no  logical  relation  of  action  to  char- 
acter. It  is  this  condition  that,  in  a  play,  gives  melodrama ; 
and,  indeed,  Mrs.  Radcliffe's  novels  have  to  those  of  George 
Eliot  or  of  Scott  at  his  best  a  relation  not  unlike  that  of 
melodrama  to  genuine  tragedy  or  tragi-comedy.  ~~" 

Different  conditions  confront  us,  however,  when  we  meas- 
ure her  by  the  novelists  who  were  her  immediate  contem- 
poraries. Novels  were  being  turned  out  in  ever  increasing 
numbers,  but  only  a  few  of  the  writers  received  anything 
like  the  recognition  which  was  accorded  Mrs.  Radcliffe. 
Those  most  prominently  mentioned  in  the  reviews  of  the 
time  are  Matthew  Gregory  Lewis,  Mrs.  Inchbald,  and  Char- 
lotte Smith. 

Lewis  has  already  been  spoken  of.  There  is  no  doubt 
that  he  received  much  of  his  inspiration  from  Mrs.  Rad- 
cliffe's Mysteries  of  Udolpho,  although,  as  has  been  said  be- 
fore, he  may  in  turn  have  given  her  some  suggestions  for 

94  Ann  Radcliffe  in  Relation  to  Her  Time 

The  Italian.  In  his  psychological  treatment  of  character 
he  has  probably  surpassed  her ;  some  real  power  of  analysis 
is  shown  in  the  monk's  struggle  between  religion  and  pas- 
sion.' But  the  crudity  of  his  horrors  make  his  book  absurd ; 
it  survives,  so  far  as  it  survives  at  all,  as  a  literary  curiosity. 
Byron  wrote  of  it  :l  'These  descriptions  ought  to  have  been 
written  by  Tiberius  at  Caprea— they  are  forced — the  phil- 
ter-ed  ideas  of  a  jaded  voluptuary.  It  is  to  me  inconceivable 
how  they  could  have  been  composed  by  a  man  of  only 
twenty.'  The  cynicism  of  the  book,  and  its  open  disregard 
of  conventional  morality,  called  forth  reviews  which  were 
distinctly  unfavorable.  Although  Lewis  was  for  a  time 
much  talked  of,  he  was  a  man  of  one  book,  and  his  influence 
was  not  equal  to  that  of  Mrs.  Radcliffe. 

One  of  the  reviews  of'  The  Mysteries  of  Udolpho  closes 
with  these  words :  'This  is  the  best  composition  of  this  kind 
that  has  appeared  since  Mrs.  Inchbald's  Simple  Story/2 
The  expression,  'this  kind/  is  a  little  puzzling  here.  The 
reviewer  must  surely  be  thinking  of  fiction  in  general,  for, 
except  that  they  are  both  fiction,  two  compositions  could 
hardly  be  more  unlike  than  The  Mysteries  of  Udolpho  and 
A  Simple  Story. 

Mrs.  Inchbald's  book  was  very  popular,  and  it  is  not  hard 
to  understand  why  it  should  have  been  so.  Its  chief  recom- 
mendation is  that  it  really  is  'A  Simple  Story' ;  the  language 
is  unaffected,  and  the  situations  and  emotions  are  of  the  sort 
that  have  a  general  appeal.  But  in  structure  it  is  faulty; 
the  break  of  seventeen  years  in  the  middle  of  the  story  is 
awkward,  especially  so  because  after  the  seventeen  years 
we  have  to  readjust  completely  our  ideas  of  the  principal 
characters.  Moreover,  the  ethical  purpose  of  the  book  is 
rather  too  obvious  for  successful  art.  Mrs.  Radcliffe,  it  is 
true,  was  strictly  moral ;  her  stories  may  all  be  said  to  be 
elaborations  of  the  theme,  'those  that  were  good  shall  be 
happy';  but  her  main  interest  does  not  lie  there.  Mrs. 

1  Journal,  Dec.  6,  1813. 
*  English  Review  23.  464. 

Contribution  to  the  Novel  95 

Inchbald  is  a  follower  of  Rousseau,  in  that  her  book  is  to 
some  extent  an  educational  treatise  in  disguise. 

Mrs.  Smith  may  more  justly  be  considered  a  rival  of  Mrs. 
Radcliffe,  for  we  find  in  her  work  two  of  Mrs.  Radcliffe's 
most  notable  characteristics — the  so-called  'Gothic*  element, 
and  the  interest  in  natural  scenery.  These  characteristics 
are  most  prominent,  however,  in  The  Old  Manor  House, 
which  was  published  in  1793,  after  A  Sicilian  Romance  and 
The  Romance  of  the  Forest.  So  it  is  quite  possible  that 
Mrs.  Smith  deliberately  imitated  the  methods  which  were 
bringing  her  sister-novelist  success. 

She  evidently  had  a  genuine  love  of  nature,  and  some  of 
her  English  landscapes  are  very  well  done.  Miss  Mitford 
referred  to  her  as  a  'landscape  poet.'1  But  when  she  at- 
tempted foreign  scenes,  the  result  was  less  satisfactory.  I 
have  spoken  of  Mrs.  Radcliffe's  habit  of  steadying  her 
imagination  by  reference  to  books  of  travel,  as  for  instance 
in  her  adaptation  of  Mrs.  Piozzi's  descriptions  of  Venice. 
If  Mrs.  Smith  consulted  any  books  of  travel,  either  she  was 
unfortunate  in  her  source,  or  she  made  no  geographical 
distinction  between  North  and  South  America.  Her  de- 
scription of  early  spring  in  a  Canadian  wilderness  is 
startling : 

On  the  opposite  side  of  the  river  lay  an  extensive  savannah, 
alive  with  cattle,  and  coloured  with  such  a  variety  of  swamp 
plants,  that  their  colour,  even  at  that  distance,  detracted  some- 
thing from  the  vivid  green  of  the  new-sprung  grass.  .  .  . 
The  acclivity  on  which  the  tents  stood  sinking  very  suddenly  on 
the  left,  the  high  cliffs  there  gave  place  to  a  cypress  swamp, 
.  .  .  while  on  the  right  the  rocks,  rising  suddenly  and  sharply, 
were  clothed  with  wood  of  various  species ;  the  evergreen  oak, 
the  scarlet  oak,  the  tulip  tree  and  magnolia,  seemed  bound  to- 
gether by  festoons  of  flowers,  some  resembling  the  convolvuluses 
of  our  gardens,  and  others  the  various  sorts  of  clematis,  with 
vignenias,  and  the  Virginia  creeper.  .  .  .  Beneath  these 
,  fragrant  wreaths  that  wound  about  the  trees,  tufts  of  rhodo- 
dendrons, and  azalea,  of  andromedas  and  calmias,  grew  in  the 
most  luxuriant  beauty;  and  strawberries  already  ripening,  or 

*  Letters  2.  29.  ' 

g6  Ann  Radcliffe  in  Relation  to  Her  Time 

even  ripe,  peeped  forth  among  the  rich  vegetation  of  grass  and 

And  this  spring  is  supposed  to  follow  'only  a  few  days  after 
the  severest  weather,  which  had  buried  the  whole  country  in 

But  Mrs.  Smith,  though  inferior  to  Mrs.  Radcliffe  in  de- 
scription and  plot,  has  surpassed  her  in  one  direction.  She 
has  created  one  triumphantly  successful  character.-  Mrs. 
Rayland,  in  The  Old  Manor  House,  never  announcing  her 
intention  of  making  young  Orlando  her  heir,  yet  governing 
his  destiny  by  her  slightest  nod,  and  maintaining  his  whole 
family  in  awe,  is  a  masterpiece.  If  Charlotte  Smith  had 
developed  more  fully  the  power  of  character-drawing  which 
she  showed  in  this  one  figure,  she  would  occupy  a  very  dif- 
ferent place  in  the  line  of  novelists  from  her  present  obscure 
niche.  But  she  wrote,  for  the  most  part,  hurriedly,  and 
under  pressure  of  financial  need.  Mrs.  Carter,  writing  of 
one  of  the  earlier  books  to  Mrs.  Montagu,  says : 

I  was  glad  to  find  that  you  were  pleased  with  the  'Orphan  of 
the  Castle.'  I  heartily  wish  it  was  fashionable  enough  to  be  of 
any  essential  benefit  to  the  author,  who  has  been  obliged  to  pur- 
chase her  freedom  from  a  vile  husband,  by  giving  up  part  of  the 
little  fortune  she  had  left ;  so  that  she  lias  at  present  little  more 
than  a  hundred  a  year  to  support  herself  and  six  or  seven 

This  personal  note  was  rather  common  in  the  consider- 
ation of  books  by  feminine  authors.  Several  reviews,  not 
very  favorable  in  tone,  of  books  by  women,  add  as  an  ex- 
tenuating circumstance  that  the  writer  has  a  worthy  object, 
the  support  of  children,  parents,  or  a  husband,  as  the  case 
may  be.  The  difference  in  attitude  in  the  reviews  of  Mrs. 
Radcliffe's  work  is  very  noticeable.  There  is  never  any 
mention  of  her  personal  circumstances ;  the  books  are  con- 
sidered wholly  upon  their  merits,  and,  in  the  case  of  the 
earlier  ones,  the  reviewer  is  evidently  uncertain  whether  to 

1  The  Old  Manor  House  3.  349. 
1  Letters,  June  30,  1788. 

Contribution  to  the  Novel  97 

attribute  them  to  a  man  or  a  woman.  That  Mrs.  Radcliffe 
stood  apart  from  the  general  crowd  of  feminine  writers  who 
were  taking  possession  of  the  field  of  fiction,  is  evident  from 
a  comment  in  The  Pursuits  of  Literature,  by  T.  Mathias,  a 
production  which  is  rather  severe  upon  writers  in  general 
and  novelists  in  particular : 

Mrs.  Charlotte  Smith,  Mrs.  Inchbald,  Mrs.  Mary  Robinson, 
Mrs.  etc.  etc.  though  all  of  them  are  ingenious  ladies,  yet  they 
are  too  frequently  whining  or  frisking  in  novels,  till  our  girls' 
heads  turn  wild  with  impossible  adventures,  and  now  and  then 
are  tainted  with  democracy.  .  .  .  Not  so  the  mighty  magician 
of  The  Mysteries  of  Udolpho,  bred  and  nourished  by  the  Floren- 
tine Muses  in  their  sacred  solitary  caverns  amid  the  paler 
shrines  of  Gothic  superstition,  and  in  all  the  dreariness  of  in- 
chantment:  a  poetess  whom  Ariosto  would  with  rapture  have 
acknowledged,  as  the 

La  nudrita 
Damigella  Trivulzia  al  sacro  speco.     (O.  F.  c.  46) * 

In  summing  up  the  impressions  gained  from  this  study, 
one  is  inclined  to  try  to  relate  literature  to  life,  and  to  con- 
clude that  the  chief  defect  in  Mrs.  Radcliffe's  art  was  a 
natural  result  of  her  temperament.  Her  journals  are  filled 
with  descriptions  of  scenery ;  there  are  few  comments  upon 
people.  She  has  left  no  evidence  of  any  strong  personal 
friendships  outside  of  her  own  family.  It  is  natural  to  con- 
clude that  she  was  not  keenly  interested  in  the  men  and 
women  around  her,  that  she  had  not  a  quick  eye  for  the 
little  oddities  of  human  character.  The  fairies  gave  her 
many  gifts,  but  they  held  back  the  one  which  a  novelist 
most  needs.  With  the  possible  exception  of  Schedoni,  she 
has  not  left  us  a  single  figure  which  deserves  a  place  in  the 
portrait-gallery  of  fiction.  But  the  gifts  were  not  wasted. 
They  made  her  immensely  popular  at  a  time  when  the  novel 
had,  perhaps,  advanced  about  as  far  as  it  could  along  one 
line  and  was  ready  for  a  change.  They  made  it  possible 
for  her  to  influence  men  and  women  who  possessed  the  one 
recious  gift  which  she  lacked,  and,  by  her  influence  upon 
them,  to  affect  the  whole  development  of  the  novel. 

1  Pursuits  of  Literature,  p.  20. 


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PR  Mclntyre,    Clara   Frances 

5204  Ann   Kadcliffe    in 

M3  relation    to   her    time. 

1920a  Yale   University 

Press      (1920)